Thank you Charles. Good morning everyone.
Let me add to Charles’s comments about being here in Brisbane.
For a banker, there is a lot to like about Queensland. It is one of the strongest growing states in Australia with an ambition to be the strongest. By 2030 Queensland will be approaching our second largest state and by the middle of this century it could have a population of seven million people. Importantly, it is also a leader in innovation.
So you can see why the state features so prominently in our growth plans. We have invested both in building new branches and in building our management depth. In July this year we appointed Russell Shields as our first Queensland State Chairman.
Now, this is my second annual general meeting since I joined ANZ some fourteen months ago.
At my first annual general meeting I spoke about my concerns for the global economy. While some suggested I was being too alarmist, in retrospect, I may have been too optimistic. Today, what I want to provide you with is a sense of how the world is viewing the global financial crisis; my perspective of what it means for our region and for ANZ; and a picture of how we are building a stronger, more resilient, more successful super regional bank.
Charles has said that ANZ weathered a challenging year in 2008. He said that while our performance was disappointing compared to some of our domestic peers, compared to many international banks it was commendable.
I think it is very important that we retain perspective.
2008 was an extraordinary year for the whole world, and in some ways Australia has been protected from the full impact of what has been happening.
I think that without spending time in the northern hemisphere, it’s very hard for those of us living in Australia and New Zealand to understand the true depth of this crisis.
Twenty five banks in the United States have failed. 230,000 jobs have been lost in banking so far.
The expectations are that job losses could reach half a million people in financial services world-wide. And write offs by financial institutions globally are around US$1 trillion.
To restore confidence, governments across the world have had to support banks with capital and with day-to-day liquidity, along with offering guarantees on deposits and guarantees on bank debt.
Whilst the turmoil was initially in the financial sector, it is now being felt in the real economy throughout the world.
Many advanced economies are in the early stages of a recession and there is a slowdown already taking place in the emerging markets.