NAB CEO Ross McEwan spoke to media this morning about the importance of getting Australia’s cities firing again, saying that while Melbourne is the most liveable city in the world, it has to get its vibrancy back after two years coming in and out of lockdowns.
“I’m a big proponent of getting our cities back open for the sake of our employees and for the sake of the hundreds of small businesses that are being starved because there aren’t people in our cities,” he said.
Ross said that while it’s great that people can now attend various events and venues, encouraging them to work from home is holding the city back.
“My heart goes out to them every time I see these businesses just being starved out there because we’ve got a rule that says: work from home.
“I was down at the Queen Victoria Market on Wednesday night. This is supposed to be their busiest night and they had 10,000 people. Usually, they have 30,000. There’s 600 employers down there running stalls who are really struggling because the city is closed.
“I can go to a nightclub. I can actually now go dancing. I can go to school. I can go to the AFL. I can go to tennis, a bar, a cafe. I can go to a club. But I can’t go to work. I think this has got to change and quickly if we want to get this city going.
Career growth and opportunities
Speaking about the need to strike the right balance between working at home and in the office, Ross said that there was a lot to be gained from being back in the office, particularly for young people who need to develop skills and experience.
“The vast majority of our colleagues want to come back to work. It is a misnomer that people want to sit at home the whole time. A big portion of our staff are saying to us, “If I can, I’d love to be in the office three days a week. I want the interaction.
“I was talking this week to 100 brand‑new graduates, all on Zoom, and they all said they wanted to be in the office so that they could learn and develop and grow their careers. We are stagnating our people by having them sitting at home.”
The full transcript of Ross’ interview for ABC RN is available in the sidebar.