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Commonwealth Bank – Plan for the Future (c.1950)


Plan for the Future is a black-and-white cinema advertisement, produced by David Koffel Productions for the Commonwealth Savings Bank. It targets young families, drawing an analogy between the importance of planning for the future of the nation, and planning for the future of each individual household. It proposes the Commonwealth Bank as the best place for savings, with the final caption: ‘the bank you own’.

Curator’s notes

In approximately 1950 when this commercial was made, both the Australian economy and the federally-owned Commonwealth Bank were undergoing a period of unprecedented growth and change. After the war, special legislation made provision for the Commonwealth Bank to facilitate the financing of housing construction and industrial development. ‘Credit foncier loans’ were renamed ‘home loans’, and as the country’s population and economy grew, hundreds of new Commonwealth Bank branches were established and agencies opened. At this stage the bank was still functioning in its dual roles as both a central bank (with formalised powers in relation to monetary and banking policy, currency issue and exchange control) and a savings and trading bank. In its capacity as a savings bank, it was competing against an increasing array of private banks and finance companies.

By 1959, the commercial banking business of the Commonwealth Bank was separated from the regulatory function. The Reserve Bank Act 1959 reconstituted the Commonwealth Bank as the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) to act from 14 January 1960 as the nation’s central bank. Control of the bank’s remaining savings and trading activities was assumed by the newly created Commonwealth Banking Corporation (CBC) – which subsequently reverted to its predecessor’s name: the Commonwealth Bank of Australia.

The National Archives holds only a small collection of Commonwealth Bank films, none dated any later than the early 1950s – well prior to the RBA-CBC split. Besides Plan for the Future, David Koffel Productions produced at least two other films for the CBC, both in 1958: A Family Affair and The Will To Serve – each wide-screen colour advertisements of around two minutes in length, promoting the range of services offered by the bank. In the 1950s the Commonwealth Bank had its own in-house archives in Sydney. At the time of the RBA-CBC split, most of this material went to what is now the Reserve Bank Archives. However, the Commonwealth Bank Archives (now the Information and Archives section of the privatised Commonwealth Bank) managed to hold on to 16mm copies of these later David Koffel productions. It also holds a collection of other audiovisual material dating to the present, including film and television commercials from the 1960s.