The beginnings (Early 19th century)

Australia’s first banks were established early in the 19th century, either as private companies or as partnerships. Government banks, created and guaranteed by colonial (later state) governments, were established to promote land settlement and rural development, and to accept savings deposits.

It was in this tradition that, in 1911 (a decade after the Australian Colonies federated), Andrew Fisher’s Labor Government decided to establish a government bank for the newly formed nation. In the succeeding decades, many State Government banks established in the 19th century were amalgamated into the Commonwealth Bank, most recently the State Bank of Victoria (1990) and, via the Colonial merger in 2000, the Rural Bank successor to the (Government) Savings Bank of NSW.