After suffering years of branch closures, the Burnett community today had something to celebrate with the opening of Bank of Queensland's latest branch at Murgon.
Murgon is the most recent community to benefit from Bank of Queensland's dramatic expansion program, the branch officially opened today by the Federal Member for Wide Bay Warren Truss.
The big banks have closed 12 branches in the Burnett region in the past five years, including at Murgon, Wondai and two each in Kilkivan and Goomeri.
In stark contrast, Bank of Queensland has opened 16 branches in the past 18 months - including at Kingaroy - and plans to open 11 more by August this year.
The Bank will open a further 10 branches by August 2004 taking its statewide network to 130.
Bank of Queensland's General Manager Retail Donna Brown said the Bank's latest branch would bring another dimension to Murgon - a bank owned and managed by local people.
"Having grown up in a rural community, I understand the importance to them of local banks.
I also realise the social and economic devastation bank closures can have on small country towns," Ms Brown said.
"Nearly as bad as branch closures is the situation faced by many rural communities where the big banks don't actually close, but reduce their staff to the point where service is virtually non-existent and queues stretch out the door - that is when the doors aren't closed for lunch!
"Bank of Queensland's owner-managed branches - where a top-quality local person actually owns the branch - are bringing banking back in touch with the community," Ms Brown said.
"These branches are not only allowing us to expand while other banks are reducing their networks, but ensure we are more flexible and responsive to the local community.
"Our local staff - here in Murgon, led by owner-manager Col Forsyth - will always be on hand to provide top quality, face-to-face banking services, including in-branch lending facilities, to the community.
"I know Col and the team at Bank of Queensland Murgon will fully participate in and become a valued part of the local community over the coming years," Ms Brown said.
Ms Brown said the Bank would continue to support local communities throughout Queensland, including opening a branch later this month in another Callide town, Biloela.