Speech by The Hon Jenny Macklin MP

Launch of the National Australia Bank Reconciliation Action Plan

Location: Canberra


First, I want to acknowledge the traditional owners on whose land we are meeting.

The Prime Minister has detailed the extra commitments the Australian Government and States and Territories are making – in particular to remote housing and health and economic participation.

The scale of this shared commitment, now totalling over $4 billion since we came to office, is a big step forward in the national effort to close the gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians.

Today we are here to celebrate the great commitment and contribution of NAB.

The most effective business action comprises two things – it’s driven from the top and it’s connected to the business case of a company.

As demonstrated by Michael and Cameron today, as well as Ahmed Fahour – the leadership in NAB is being driven from the top and reaches out at all levels.

NAB’s practical commitments, outlined in its Reconciliation Action Plan, range from employment and corporate volunteering to micro-finance products.

They are strategically woven into its organisational strengths and identity as a financial institution.

You are setting a new benchmark.

As we’ve heard, NAB is backing Indigenous enterprise and financial services in remote areas through its alliance with the Traditional Credit Union.

The Traditional Credit Union (TCU) operates a number of branches across Arnhem Land and on Groote Eylandt.

It trains and employs Aboriginal people, and delivers essential financial services to people, often in languages other than English.

The TCU won the inaugural Reconciliation Australia and BHP Billiton Governance Award this year, and I had the pleasure of presenting it to them.

Just as NAB is backing these leaders in Indigenous enterprise and governance, the Australian Government is backing them too.

Today I am proud to announce that $1.5 million has been approved from the Aboriginal Benefits Account to boost the credit union’s operations over the next three years.

Closing the gap is an enormous challenge and everyone has a role.

I have been truly inspired by the commitment and goodwill demonstrated by the corporate sector in tackling this challenge.

The Government is developing a Business Action Agenda for Closing the Gap to better harness and build on the corporate sector’s commitment and to identify the key areas and policy priorities that we are keen to support business action.

I’d like to congratulate Reconciliation Australia, in particular Barbara Livesey, for its important work encouraging business to help close the gap and on achieving its 100th RAP.

To NAB – congratulations on the commitment you’ve shown and the great work you are doing to reach your ambitious goals.