fbpx
Skip to main content
New Financial Assistance Hub

TRANSCRIPT: ABA CEO Anna Bligh on ABC Radio’s AM 18 November “a chance to get back on their feet”

18 November 2020

Interviewed by AM’s Peter Ryan, ABA CEO Anna Bligh talked about the substantial drop in loan deferrals since their peak during the pandemic, falling from 900,000 to 300,000.


“There’s no doubt that this breathing space for people on their payment deferrals has given them a chance to get back on their feet”

SPEAKERS: ABA CEO Anna Bligh, ABC journalist Sabra Lane, ABC Senior Business Correspondent Peter Ryan

Sabra Lane: This morning the Australian Banking Association says there’s been a huge drop in loan holidays, as borrowers resumed their payments, thanks in large part to government programs like JobKeeper. What happens though when those measures are wound back? Peter Ryan is our Senior Business Correspondent and we spoke earlier. Peter, how confident should we be that this is a sign that the economic recovery is underway?

Peter Ryan: Well, good morning, Sabra. This is a significant turnaround that helps avoid what could have been catastrophic consequences for Australia’s economy. The value of loans on deferral has now fallen to $86 billion. That’s down from a peak of more than $250 billion back in June, or 900,000 loans, a massive exposure for Australia’s seven biggest banks at a time when the official jobless rate was hurtling towards more than 10%, meaning that banks rather than households and businesses have absorbed the economic shock. The Australian Banking Association, the peak body for major banks, says the majority of deferred loans are now back on track, combined home loans and business loans are down to just over 280,000 or a 65% reduction since June. The Association’s Chief Executive, the former Queensland Premier, Anna Bligh remains very cautious. But she says emergency measures like JobKeeper have kept people in their jobs and paying off at least something from their loans.

Anna Bligh:  I don’t think anybody’s trying to look at this through rose coloured glasses. Banks have said very publicly and very honestly, that for some of their customers 2021 is going to mean facing some pretty tough decisions. If you are facing long term unemployment because of what’s happened in your industry and circumstances involving you and your family, there are going to be circumstances where it is in the best interest of the customer to put their property on the market, realise the equity they have in it and restore themselves to financial well being.

Peter Ryan: But looking back, is it clear that without programs like JobKeeper or other emergency measures that households and businesses would have had to absorb this economic shock rather than the banks.


Value of loan deferrals 29 April – 4 November 2020


Anna Bligh: There’s no doubt that this breathing space for people on their payment deferrals has given them a chance to get back on their feet. But in many cases, that would have been very difficult without government support as well.

Peter Ryan: But looking back, Australia’s been able to avoid what would have been a catastrophic moment for homes and businesses.

Anna Bligh: Australia could have faced quite catastrophic circumstances. But all of those things together help to absorb the shock of this economic damage and meant that that shock didn’t have to all be absorbed 100% by households and businesses, which would have been catastrophic.

Peter Ryan: At the peak, there was a $250 billion exposure to major banks, how much fear was there that perhaps one or more banks would come under intense pressure.

Anna Bligh: It can be difficult to look back even just 10 months and remember the extraordinary uncertainty that everybody faced at the beginning of this pandemic. And yes, banks were very concerned.

Peter Ryan: The unemployment rate was tipped to exceed ten percent, now perhaps eight percent, but that’s still very, very high and that’s a lot of pressure for households and businesses and banks.

Anna Bligh: If we have levels of unemployment up around the seven, eight, nine percent, then that means there are going to be a lot of customers and many of those customers will be people who’ve never missed a housing payment on their home, people who have been very responsible – you know borrowers for a long period of time with a great history of doing the right thing – and if we are facing those sorts of levels of unemployment, some of these customers are going to really struggle.

Sabra Lane: That’s the Australian Banking Association Chief Executive, Anna Bligh.


Banks have a range of options to help customers impacted by COVID-19

Latest news

1 / 3
Don’t fall for a fake cupid this Valentine’s Day  
13 February 2024

Love is in the air, but so are scammers looking to exploit the season of hearts and flowers.   As Valentine’s Day approaches, the Australian Banking Association (ABA) urges everyone to be extra cautious and scam-proof their heart from romance scams and other fraudulent schemes.  “Scammers play the part and prey on people’s emotions,” ABA CEO… Read more »

Read more
Banks hardship teams on standby to help cyclone-impacted communities in Queensland 
31 January 2024

Banks have dedicated hardship teams on standby to help those impacted by Tropical Cyclone Kirrily and the Australian Banking Association has urged those in need of financial assistance to reach out.  “With the second major cyclone in as many months followed by torrential rain, people in Queensland have been dealt yet another serious blow. I… Read more »

Read more
Media Releases
Banks stand ready to support cyclone-impacted communities in Far North Queensland 
18 December 2023

Today the Australian Banking Association has told Queenslanders impacted by major flooding as a result of cyclone Jasper that banks have teams on standby to help those in need.  “The ABA urges anyone in need of financial assistance to reach out to their bank, and to do so as early as possible. Dedicated hardship teams… Read more »

Read more