Mike Baird’s hopeless quest to build 'respect' for National Australia Bank

Mike Baird announced his pledge to help make NAB the most respected of the Big Four Australian banks.
March 11, 2017

"Former NSW Premier Mike Baird has enthusiastically accepted a job at the National Australia Bank as chief customer officer, in order to spend less time with his family," The Chaser revealed on February 28.

"Baird has reported an exhausting five weeks spending quality time with his children. According to Lucy Baird, his eldest daughter, Baird's return has polled badly among the family, following his controversial policy of putting his children to bed two hours earlier than they were previously used to.

"Baird, who will be taking an annual salary of $2 million, told colleagues he is looking forward to the new role at NAB. He has already announced plans to install a six-lane freeway straight through the middle of each branch, and replace ATMs with poker machines. He is also planning to sell off all the little pens next to the deposit slips.

"But experts predict this is not the last move for Baird. Observers say that after a tumultuous first year working for NAB, Baird will quit, in order to spend more time with his money."

Baird announced his return to the world of banking with a pledge to help make NAB the most respected of the Big Four Australian banks. Well, good luck with that, Mike!

The NAB, along with its partners in crime, Commonwealth, Westpac and ANZ, are all currently despised by the majority of the Australian public, and face growing calls for a royal commission into their financial malpractices and rip-offs.

The recent appointment of former Queensland Labor premier Anna Bligh as head of the Australian Bankers Association, and now the accession of Baird to a leading position at NAB, have further undermined public confidence in both the big banks and mainstream political leaders.

NSW Greens MP David Shoebridge said the unseemly haste of Baird's switch to the private sector created the potential for a conflict of interest: "Who better, if you want access to the [Gladys] Berejiklian cabinet, than a premier who largely belongs to her factional grouping?" Shoebridge said.

"His influence won't be in small groupings or representations. His influence will be a cup of coffee over the weekend or catching up with drinks or the extraordinarily broad social connections he has with the Liberal Party, and for a bank that wants political access, that's invaluable."

Just a few recent examples show the seamless switch between leading politicians and the private sector: former NT Liberal National Party premier Adam Giles, now works for Gina Rinehart's Hancock Prospecting; former Liberal trade minister Andrew Robb, now a consultant for the Landbridge Group, the Chinese company that controls the Port of Darwin; former NSW Liberal premier Barry O'Farrell, now CEO of Racing Australia; former federal Labor resources minister Martin Ferguson, now chair of Tourism Accommodation Australia, and previously a lobbyist for the resources and energy sector; and recently retired Labor front-bencher Stephen Conroy, now head of Responsible Wagering Australia, set up by the on-line gambling industry.

This widespread cross-over of personnel between parliamentary political leaders and big business is a key part of how the Australian ruling class operates.

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