Former Queensland MP Paul Lucas said Anna Bligh's appointment as chief executive of the Australian Bankers Association shows the ABA is keen for change, but unions say change won't happen without a royal commission.
"It's an incredibly clear signal from the banking industry that business as usual from an industry point of view is over," Mr Lucas said.
"She wouldn't have accepted a job if they wanted the status quo."
Ms Bligh has already been questioned about her appointment and whether it conflicts with her Labor background, but she told ABC Radio that is not an issue.
"Every industry association needs to work with all sides of politics and that's what I'll be doing," she said.
"What I don't bring to this job is, I'm not a banker but I am a customer, and I'll bringing a customer lens to every piece of work that I turn my mind to."
Mr Lucas, who was attorney-general in the Bligh government, said Ms Bligh is still "as core Labor as you can get" and a reformer at heart who will bring a different set of experiences to the job.
"It's a very telling thing when the banks turn to the state school-educated daughter of a single mum on the Gold Coast to lead a return to values and reputation, instead of the typical pinstripe lawyer or banker from Toorak or Vaucluse," he said.
"I think she's an outstanding appointment for an organisation that fundamentally needs to change."
Despite her credentials, there are aspects of the highly political job that will pit her against her former colleagues in Labor.
Opposition Leader Bill Shorten has called for a royal commission into the banking sector, but Ms Bligh told the ABC she is confident banks can enact change from within.
"I think Bill Shorten is making these calls because he's heard the demand from customers and the public to build a better and more trustworthy banking system," she said.
"Personally, I've always believed that you get more done inside the tent and that's why I am very excited about the opportunity to lead and shape a very compelling package of change and reform".
However the unions are doubtful the banking sector can be trusted to effect any real change from within.
Andrew Dettmer, national president of the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union and former Queensland president of the ALP, said he believes Ms Bligh has plenty of integrity, but self-regulation has proven to be a "dismal failure" for the banking sector.
"I think that Anna Bligh has very high integrity, but my concern is with the bank association - polishing a turd is not particularly useful."
Ros McLennan, general secretary of the Queensland Council of Unions, agreed that self-regulation would not provide a solution.
"We wish her well but her previous role as premier will have absolutely no bearing on how unions view the role of banks in day-to-day lives of Queenslanders," Ms McLennan said.
"We recently called for a royal commission into banking because Queenslanders and Australians deserve banks that looks after their interests, not just the interests of big business and merchant bankers. The LNP's proposal for a 'small-t' tribunal into the banking industry shows they have no interest in fixing it."
This story was found at: http://www.brisbanetimes.com.au
Author: Rachel Clun