NAB’s problems go higher than Andrew Thorburn

We say this metaphorically and with the greatest respect and sympathy for its customer-facing toilers (not ripping us off), but can someone please just burn National Australia Bank to the ground and start again? The board convened on Tuesday, scalped nobody, then went home. The inquiry that has stopped Australia in its tracks has singled out one bank of greatest concern, and specifically that both its chairman and CEO seem incapable of recognising its actions correctly as right or wrong. What would it take?!

That smug prickKen Henryissued a statement along the lines of: “This royal commission was my idea, anyway, and I’m disappointed thatKenneth Haynefound my eye-rolling and insolence towards counsel assisting as a sign I don’t take the systemic wrongdoing of the public company I chair (for $790,000 a year) seriously.” Who wouldn’t love to see Dr Henry say these words to a room of NAB’s victims. By pure conceit, has anybody ever been more obscenely unsuitable for leadership in corporate Australia?

Anyway, NAB led the call for this royal commission by co-signing a letter with its three peers calling for it after federal cabinet had resolved to commission it. That’s called shameless window-dressing.

Andrew Thorburn

Andrew Thorn dodges reporters … in a BMW! At least it was a hatch.  Ansell, Ben

By comparison,Andrew Thorburnlooks positively grounded. Sure he was picked up at home on Tuesday morning by a BMW, but it was a 1-series hatch! Were it a 7-series saloon, it surely would’ve been our big four’s version of Detroit’s big three (automakers) admitting to US Congress in 2008 they’d all come to Washington to ask for a $25 billion bailout … in their private jets.

In a sign of some awareness under Thorburn, the leadership of Mike Baird’s retail banking division has postponed a fact-finding mission in Europe until later this year. If Continental cautionary tales were what they’re after, why don’t they just read NAB’s old annual reports?

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