Australian of the Year organisers sever 38-year CBA partnership

Australian of the Year organisers have severed a 38-year partnership with the Commonwealth Bank over fears the scandal-plagued finance industry was damaging the reputation of the national awards.

The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age understand the National Australia Day Council and the bank reached the decision before Saturday's election.

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Labor last November seized on damaging revelations at the banking royal commission to call for CBA to be stripped of its association with the awards as punishment for poor behaviour.

Frontbencher Matt Thistlethwaite suggested the bank should be "benched" as major sponsor of the nationally televised awards for at least two years.


"Having sat down with many, many bank victims and seen and heard the pain and suffering inflicted on them by the Commonwealth Bank and others, if I were one of those victims I would feel pretty hurt seeing Australia Day plastered with Commonwealth Bank logos and bank executives participating in our national day," Mr Thistlethwaite said at the time.


Mr Thistlethwaite's intervention triggered a broad debate inside the National Australia Day Council, leading to discussions with CBA over whether to continue their association.

In a statement, Commonwealth Bank chief marketing officer Monique Macleod said: "Decisions such as these are not easy and we greatly appreciate the opportunity we have had to work with the NADC and to support the Australian of the Year Awards.

"Having been a proud and long standing partner of the National Australia Day Council for 38 years, we believe it is the
right time for us to review this sponsorship."

The National Australia Day Council relies on corporate donations to co-ordinate the January 26 ceremony and will now seek a new sponsor. Cash and in-kind sponsorship from CBA and other contributors accounted for more than 35 per cent of the organisation's revenue last year.

"I'm sure if they were benched there would be other organisations and corporates more than willing to step in to the CBA's shoes and sponsor our national day," Mr Thistlethwaite said last November.

Labor was preparing to take a tough line on Australia's major banks had it won the May 18 election but shares surged on Monday after the Coalition's shock victory.

National Australia Day Council chair Danielle Roche thanked the Commonwealth Bank for its support.

"The National Australia Day Council has a wonderful group of partners and looks forward to celebrating extraordinary Australians through the Australian of the Year Awards in 2020 and beyond."