The oldest bank in Papua New Guinea, Westpac Bank – PNG – Limited was established in 1910.The parent company is now Westpac Banking Corporation of Australia which is in turn the oldest bank and the oldest public company in Australia. It was established in 1817 as the Bank of New South Wales.
In the last 85 years Westpac has contributed to the development and growth of Papua New Guinea, not just in the provision of Banking services but in terms of community services. It is a major sponsor of the Salvation Army Red Shield Appeal as well as a number of other worthwhile organisations. A little known contribution by the bank is its donation to the National Parliament of a portrait of successive Speakers of the House since Independence in 1975. The bank has a number of long-time associations with major businesses in Papua New Guinea, most notable of these being historic associations with the Burns Philp Group and the Steamships Trading Group.
Over the years the bank has experienced a number of disruptions. During the war years Wau branch was completely destroyed except for the strongroom. In another incident at Salamaua the banks records and cash were buried by the staff before they fled and have not been located to this day, as far as we know.
The bank survived volcanic eruptions at Rabaul in the 1930’s and more recently in 1994. It made a major donation of K75 thousand to the Rabaul Volcanic Disaster Relief Fund.
For years Australian & New Zealand staff have spent a term in PNG as expatriates. There is a thriving reunion each year in most capital cities in Australia when ex-PNG staff get together to re-live their time in PNG. These days the numbers are dwindling as the bank proudly exhibits the results of many years of localisation. Today the bank boasts the highest ratio of Papua New Guinea staff to expatriate staff. At Independence the bank had less than 10% Papua New Guinean staff. It is 96% today.
As it stands today, the bank has a clear strategy which is focused on bringing it up to current-day international best practice under the banner of being “Simply the Best Bank”.