Helping grow Australia’s economy is one of the priorities of the ABA
24 August 2022
Full Transcript: Anna Bligh with Laura Jayes, Sky News Aug 24 2022
ABA CEO Anna Bligh spoke with Sky News journalist Laura Jayes on the upcoming Jobs + Skills Summit in Canberra. Anna’s speaking points included the opportunities of this time of great disruption to equip ourselves as a nation for growth, prosperity and increased equality; that the two-day summit is the launch of a process that will involve the entire Australian community; that banks have been undergoing a major shift in the skills they need in the majority of their workers, and that the ABA and member banks have not only already begun talks with the Government collectively and individually, but will continue to do so after the summit.
Laura Jayes: Australian Banking Association CEO and former Labor Premier Anna Bligh will represent the banks. She joins us live now. Thanks so much for your time. What do the banks actually want to achieve at the summit?
Anna Bligh: Australian banks see the summit as a great opportunity at the beginning of a new term of a new government for the whole country to think about the economy that we want for the next decade and beyond – and how make sure we’re equipped for all the opportunities ahead of us. That we’ve got the right skills, we’ve got the right regulatory settings, that we’ve got the right payment systems. How do we make sure we can land this in a way that delivers growth, prosperity, and increases equality, not reduces it?
Laura Jayes: That’s a fairly big remit. In order for the Jobs + Skills Summit to be a success, the Government is trying to kind of manage expectations and limit the scope. So do you think all those issues are going to be addressed?
“I think it’s really important that we see this summit as the launch of a process, not the landing of it… two days is not going to be enough to solve some of the bigger issues.”ABA CEO Anna Bligh
Anna Bligh: Well, I think it’s really important that we see this summit as the launch of a process, not the landing of it. You know, two days is not going to be enough to solve some of the bigger issues. And that’s why, frankly, I think it’s a great idea that the Government is seeing this summit as the beginning of a process that will see a white paper issued to the entire Australian community. There will be public submissions into that process.
When you want to make big changes and you want to think about big ideas, you know, a white paper process, it sounds very boring, Laura Jayes, but it’s actually one of the most important in ways that I think governments of all persuasions have really gone about thinking of big ideas and big shifts in public policy. So the summit is really the beginning of a process. It’s an important beginning. I think we’re all going hear a lot of interesting ideas, but it’s really what comes beyond that that, I think, is the main game.
Laura Jayes: You have unique perspective because you’re in your position that you are now, and you’ve also been a state premier. My one reservation is that Kevin Rudd also had a summit like this, and the outcomes were not acted upon, and it was full of corporate speak.
“I think everybody’s going with a sense of a very open mind, a lot of goodwill, and hopefully really trying to find consensus. “
Anna Bligh: I think you can only judge what comes out of this summit and what happens next, by what actually happens. Everything I’m hearing from not only the government, but there’s a very wide cross-section of sectors of the economy that are attending, whether it’s unions, academics, state leaders, corporate Australia, industry and peak bodies, non-government agencies. I think everybody’s going with a sense of a very open mind, a lot of goodwill, and hopefully really trying to find consensus.
We’re not going to agree on everything, we’re not going to solve every issue in 48 hours. I think, you know, let’s be realistic. It’s the beginning of a process that I think comes from a place of very strong commitment to getting it right, a lot of goodwill from all the players. And I think also if you think about it, in comparison to perhaps a previous summit, a much more focused and narrower agenda, it’s not trying to boil the ocean. It’s saying, let’s focus on the economy. Let’s focus on the skills that we need for the jobs of the future, and that’s a really important topic.
“We are in a moment of unprecedented disruption and change. So let’s take one breath, you know, take a step outside and say, ‘well, how do we really get that right?’. Because if we get it right, I think it can create jobs and growth and prosperity and wealth for the country and for the people and families who make up Australia. “
We are in a moment of unprecedented disruption and change. So let’s take one breath, you know, take a step outside and say, ‘well, how do we really get that right?’ Because if we get it right, I think it can create jobs and growth and prosperity and wealth for the country and for the people and families who make up Australia. If we get it wrong, we could actually see inequality get worse, and that has a very bad impact on social cohesion and the quality of life for every one of us. So having a really red hot go at getting it right, I think, really matters.
Laura Jayes: Well, this is not a comment on your negotiating or advocate advocacy skills, but why are the big four bosses of the banks not invited and the superannuation bosses are? Can you explain that?
Anna Bligh: Well, I think anybody who’s ever done an invitation list for a big family event or a wedding knows that a hundred spots is not very many and you’ve got to make some big calls. Look, this was an invitation list done by the government, I think they’ve got a very good cross-section of the Australian community also.
“The Treasurer has recently met with all of the CEOs of the Australian Banking Association in our first meeting after the election. He’s also met individually with each of the major bank CEOs.”
As I said, I think it’s really important to remember this is the beginning, not the end of this process. The Treasurer has recently met with all of the CEOs of the Australian Banking Association in our first meeting after the election. He’s also met individually with each of the major bank CEOs. And I anticipate that will happen again in the future. What we are going to see, I think, is post the summit, lots of companies, including large and small banks, responding to the white paper, putting up their experiences, their ideas. And out of all of that, I hope we get something that’s a very significant move forward for the country.
Laura Jayes: When you get around this table, what is your advocacy when it comes to more migrants, to fill skills shortages, or even ideas like letting pensioners work more before their payments are penalised.
“I think there are very few parts of the economy that are experiencing as rapid a change in skills needed than you’re seeing in banking at the moment… Australian banks employ more data analysts, software engineers, coders than they employ clerical staff or tellers. “
Anna Bligh: Well, I think there are very few parts of the economy that are experiencing as rapid a change in skills needed than you’re seeing in banking at the moment. You know, just over the last sort of three to five years, we now have a situation where Australian banks employ more data analysts, software engineers, coders than they employ clerical staff or tellers. So Australian banks are becoming tech companies in their own right, almost. They are no different than the companies that they are banking. They see the same thing happening in the businesses that they support through lending and other banking services. So a very big focus on skills, and a more short-term focus on labour shortage.
“The skills issue in the longer term is about, I think, staring very deeply into the connection between our schooling system, our training and education system, beyond school, into our workplaces. What is the role of corporate Australia in skilling and reskilling as the economy shifts?”
The skills issue in the longer term is about, I think, staring very deeply into the connection between our schooling system, our training and education system, beyond school, into our workplaces. What is the role of corporate Australia in skilling and reskilling as the economy shifts? Migration is part of that, but doing some of the hard yards ourselves has got to be part of it as well.
Laura Jayes: It will be a really interesting summit. Before I let you go, the unions have flagged that perhaps they should get a seat on the RBA Board. Would that worry you?
Anna Bligh: The Reserve Bank is currently the subject of a comprehensive review by the Government, including who should be on the Board. I think we’ll leave it to the review to have a look at that and see what they come up with.
Laura Jayes: Anna Bligh, good to talk to you, we’ll see you next week.
Anna Bligh: Thank you.
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