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Joe Hockey's former adviser Tony Pearson goes in to bat for the banks

Tony Pearson is set to join the banking industry's peak lobby group. Photo: Aaron Brown Tony Pearson is set to join the banking industry's peak lobby group. Photo: Aaron Brown
One of Federal Treasurer Joe Hockey's senior advisers has been snapped up by the lobby group for the banking industry as it battles recommendations from the financial services inquiry.

The Australian Bankers' Association on Monday announced four new appointments that it hopes will improve its lobbying efforts in Canberra including economist Tony Pearson, who for the past five years has been a senior adviser to Mr Hockey.

He joined the ABA on Monday as executive director of industry policy.

He will be joined by Aidan O'Shaughnessy, who will become the ABA's policy director of industry policy from Tuesday after moving across from the Australian Securities and Investments Commission.

Christine Cupitt, who has most recently worked at KPMG, will join the ABA next week as policy director of retail policy, while Nic Frankham will join next month as the new director of communications government relations after departing American Express.

The appointments represent a shift in strategic direction for the ABA, which wants to participate more deeply in policymaking processes - not only the financial system inquiry but the government's competition law and agriculture reviews, and the tax white paper.

ABA chief executive Steven Munchenberg said this would allow the association to become a more credible lobbyist on behalf of the banks.

"We are a vested interest and paid for by the banks - and we have no issue being seen that way - but in making a broader contribution to public policy overall you will be taken more seriously [in Canberra], and that makes you more effective managing issues," he said.

"The reactionary work still needs to be done and as the sectorial association representing banks, we will continue to respond to issues running in media or politics - and that will continue.

"But on top of that, we want to play a more active role as an industry in setting the broader policy agenda around the industry as well."

The ABA is currently defending the banks from suggestions by financial system inquiry chair David Murray that they may be forced to hold higher levels of capital to safeguard the system from a future crisis.

The ABA has 16 staff, an increase of one this year after long-serving director of public relations Heather Wellard and three communications-focus staff departed in March. It is understood the ABA received a small increase to its operating budget this year, but the budget is not disclosed.

Mr Munchenberg said he remained committed to his job for the foreseeable future. "This is a big shift in what the ABA is doing and what members want, and I personally think the association delivers maximum value when it is managing issues the industry faces and working with the strategic positioning of the industry. Having helped create this change, I have to stay around to make sure it is delivered on and have no plans to go anywhere soon."

Mr Pearson has most recently been chief economist to the Treasurer and before that worked as an economist at ANZ Banking Group and National Australia Bank after starting at the Reserve Bank of Australia.

Mr O'Shaughnessy has most recently been ASIC's senior specialist in strategic policy and has worked on market structure and supervision programs. Ms Cupitt worked in risk consulting at KPMG and before than in a sales compliance and regulation role at AMP. Mr Frankham will join from American Express, where he has been director of public affairs and communications. He was previously at NRMA and also advised then NSW Minister for Transport, Roads and Ports Carl Scully.

Author: James Eyers
Source: Sydney Morning Herald


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