NAB 2024 outlook: housing affordability, AI and climate change in-focus

  • Affordable housing

NAB CEO Ross McEwan reflects on the big issues facing Australia in 2024, including housing affordability, AI and climate change.

  • 24.01.2024
  • Time to read 1 min read
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NAB CEO Ross McEwan reflects on the big issues facing Australia in 2024, including housing affordability, AI and climate change.

A new year has begun, yet some big issues facing Australia remain.

Among them: housing, harnessing emerging tech and climate change.

NAB CEO Ross McEwan provides his thoughts on these topics, noting big business has a responsibility to work collaboratively with government and the community on meaningful responses.

Finding solutions to the housing crisis

“Housing is Australia’s biggest issue – it will continue to have a disproportionate impact on young and vulnerable Australians if we don’t get the settings right now,” Mr McEwan said.

“I worry that the great Australian dream of owning your own home is at risk.

“Affordability is at a 30-year low, and rental prices are rapidly increasing. That’s because we simply don’t have enough houses for our growing population, let alone enough affordable and social housing for people who need support.

“The gap between supply and demand has increased significantly. We’re building around 50,000 homes less than we need each year.

“All levels of government urgently need to collaborate on simpler and faster regulations, while freeing up land suitable for building. There also needs to be more targeted government support for social and affordable housing and more innovative construction methods to meet supply targets, such as modular housing.

Mr McEwan said NAB wants to play its part and lend an extra $6 billion for affordable and specialist housing by 2029.

“Last year we invested $67.5 million into a specialist disability accommodation portfolio through Lighthouse Infrastructure,” he said.

“NAB also supports social and affordable accommodation projects through Nightingale and Good Shepherd.

“This issue is not just for governments to solve. Banks, developers, builders and community partners can all move faster.”

AI and protecting customers

Mr McEwan said NAB has been using AI for some time, particularly across cyber security, fraud and financial crime to protect customers and the bank.

“As a data-driven organisation, we want to be at the forefront, but only with the right guardrails in place,” he said.

“The key is to do this safely and combine it with human intelligence to deliver the best results.

“Our new ‘Customer Brain’ initiative is really exciting and will save time for our bankers that they can spend elsewhere with customers. It shows that we’re thinking about customers – not about us – and we think about customers every time we engage with them across every channel.

“The one thing that does keep me awake at night is the threat of cyber attacks. Multi-national criminals are targeting Australians every second of every day,” Mr McEwan added.

“We’ve seen in Australia the impact this can have on business and community, and we’re constantly working to keep our bank and customers safe.

“Our job is to help protect customers and educate them about the red flags and how to stay safe. AI has a role to play in this too, we’re already using it to identify unusual behaviour and stop scams from happening.”

Acting on climate change

Research NAB conducted last year with Deloitte Economics found Australia can add $435 billion to its economy by 2050 if the country capitalises on its natural advantages in solar, wind and critical minerals.

“NAB is Australia’s leading bank for global renewables transactions – and has been for some time. Almost three-quarters of our power generation financing is already directed towards renewables,” Mr McEwan said.

“We recognise the urgent action required to get on track to meet national targets and will continue to consider the implications for our business.

“To take advantage of this opportunity, public and private planning and investment needs to be coordinated. Investment and labour is also needed to drive renewable projects, with shorter lead-times and a consistent national framework for green projects.”

“We will continue to play a major role here.”

In 2024, NAB will continue working to support action on important issues facing our communities  Find out more here.

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