The Bank@Post initiative championed by Australia Post under CEO Christine Holgate is a part of the wider strategy to broaden the range of services offered by post offices in order to make the overall organisation profitable and keep it from being privatised.
Bank@Post means that Australia Post’s 3,500 post offices around the country, including many in rural and regional areas, are able to act as proxy branches for First Option Bank.
In any post office you can deposit cash and cheques into your First Option bank accounts and check your account balances for free, as well as withdraw money over-the-counter from the post office’s staff for a flat $3 fee.
In November 2020 Christine Holgate was pressured to resign from her role as CEO in response to negative coverage and public opinion of her ‘gifting’ of expensive watches to the four senior Australia Post executives responsible for successfully implementing the Bank@Post deal.
“I still believe firmly that the people who achieved the Bank@Post outcome for Australia Post deserved recognition, their work secured a $220m investment over the following years, which dramatically improved the financial performance of the company, protected a critical community service which more than 50% of the communities in Australia depend on and made our Community Post Offices sustainable for the long term.”
Holgate acknowledges that the performance reward didn’t pass the ‘pub test’ of public opinion, but a federal government investigation found “no indication of dishonesty, fraud, corruption or intentional misuse of Australia Post funds by any individual involved.