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Should the government bank with the Community Bank?

Bendigo Community Bank will put back 80% or more of it’s profits into community services, groups, charities and events – profits derived directly from the level of funds in bank accounts with the Community Bank. So why doesn’t Government, and every government agency, invest some of their funds on term deposit with Canberra’s Community Bank Branches of Bendigo Bank?
Understandably there is a tender process to do the government’s banking, and no doubt that contract sits with one of the big 4 banks currently. But not all of government’s revenue is part of that arrangement. What about Federal Grants Funding and other federal money earmarked for projects to be administered by the States and Territories? Why wouldn’t the ACT government invest some of those funds with the only locally owned bank in Canberra?
The local Community Bank is unapologetically parochial in it’s endeavours to spend our money locally and to invest our profits in local groups that help local people. We hire local people, we buy our goods and services locally where possible, and our shareholders are almost all locals.
The Molonglo Community Bank Group has four branches locally at Calwell, Curtin, Jerrabomberra and Wanniassa. Each Branch has a Manager who runs the Branch and Should the government bank with the Community Bank? makes the decisions. Advice is available everyday with no obligations. In return we hope locals will support our branches by banking with us. Because we have done a good job of helping customers since 2002, this year we will be able to contribute our one millionth dollar from profits back to community groups and projects.
The Community Bank® model provide communities with more than just quality banking services – they deliver employment opportunities for local people, keep local capital in the community, are a local investment option for shareholders and provide a source of revenue for important community projects determined by the local community.
Canberra is a diverse community but ultimately we are a community that cares about our fellow citizens. We can always do more and although an increase of a thousand houses in the last 11 years is something to be proud of the waiting lists are still not as short as we would like.
One of the difficulties of Government is achieving balance between competing needs and sometimes demands. The latest changes to the tax laws, despite some of the fear mongering, mean that for people entering the housing market, costs are reduced and that ultimately the burden is shared.
Personally I doubt that in the future the traditional sources of Government revenue will be sufficient and I look forward to a time when we can generate greater community income from innovative practices in business, education and industry so that general services become more affordable through strategies designed to increase our sustainability profile.
Governments around the country could partner with Community focused and proven philanthropic corporate like the Bendigo Community Banks to create community assets in the community without having to tax to pay for it.
The Partnership announced in September by Minister Burch, between Canberra’s Bendigo Community Bank Branches, West Belconnen Health Co-Op and the ACT Government to deliver a Bulk Billing Health Co-Op in Chisholm early next year is an example of just such collaboration.
We can also build on the domestic and export value of our marvelous tertiary education facilities and create employment opportunities and export potential through greener jobs in a carbon neutral and sustainable economy.
I do believe in dreaming big, but that can only become reality when combined with working hard. The future of Canberra has never looked brighter.

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