anna bligh
Australia's Prime Minister Kevin Rudd (C), flanked by Queensland Premier Anna Bligh (left) and New South Wales Premier Kristina Keneally, speaks during a news conference in Canberra, April 20, 2010. Reuters/Andrew Taylor

Anna Bligh, former Labor MP, was appointed on Friday as the first female chief executive officer (CEO) of the Australian Banker's Association (ABA). She signed the position rather than accept her party's calls for a banking royal commission. She will begin her role on April 3.

“Personally, I’ve always believed you get more done inside the tent and that’s why I’m excited about the opportunity to lead and shape a very compelling package of change and reforms,” she told ABC Radio (via the ABC).

Bligh said that she intended to incorporate the power of bipartisan support in her new role. She said that it was the bipartisanship that gave her most significant achievements in politics. "We would never have had an opportunity to introduce a new year of school in Queensland, or indeed to have successfully recovered after our floods and disasters if I didn't have what it takes to work across the political divide," she said.

ABA chairman Andrew Thorburn said that Bligh's role would cover several concerns in the banking industry. Bligh's focus would be the creation of a strong vision for customers and lifting respect for the bankers' profession. She would also focus on how the industry responds and the leads on regulatory reform as well as the culture within the industry. "Our banks are critical to the strength and stability of our national economy and the prosperity and wellbeing of every Australian," Bligh said.

However, Nationals MP Andrew Broad questioned Bligh's appointment. He said that the role was better to be assigned to a banker than a politician. Queensland Labor senator Murray Watt opposed Broad's view by saying that nothing was wrong in the appointment. "I think Anna’s displayed she’s got a lot of ability in the corporate sector... and she’s obviously impressed people in the corporate community," Watt said.

Bligh was recognised by Thorburn saying that she was highly regarded and respected by business and political leaders and the community. Thorburn added that Bligh understood the need for all stakeholders to work together to give the customers that best outcome they expected.

The new ABA CEO was honoured on Australia Day with the highest civilian appointment for services to politics and women, Companion of the Order of Australia. She received the award for her advocacy of women's roles in public life, contribution to education reform and eminent service to the Queensland Parliament. She was one of the 121 Queenslanders who received the award.

Bligh revealed in 2013 that she had a non-Hodgkin lymphoma but declared in 2014 that she has recovered from the disease. The 56-year-old ABA CEO was the first popularly elected female premier in Australia.