| May 29, 2023
Bank closures hurting regional communities
The Nationals have raised the issue of bank closures in regional communities in Parliament, calling on the Minister for Regional Development to support regional towns to ensure vital local banking services remain.
In data released last year, 575 Australian towns that once had at least one of the big four banks now have no form of bank at all.
Deputy Leader of The Nationals and Member for Lowan Emma Kealy said she had recently been advised that the Bendigo and Adelaide Bank Ltd would be closing its agencies in Warracknabeal and Stawell in June and the National Australia Bank would close its Jeparit agency in early July.
“My office is constantly contacted by Lowan residents who rely on visiting a local branch to do their daily banking. I am extremely concerned about the impact these bank closures will have on older people, those with disabilities and people who do not have English as their first language,” Ms Kealy said.
“It’s all very well for these banks to force more and more people into online banking, but that simply doesn’t work for many people – especially the elderly, many of whom don’t even have a computer, let alone being set up for online banking.
“And quite rightly – they also don’t overly trust what goes on in cyberspace and there is more than enough evidence to show these concerns are justified.
“Many of these factors are also made worse by poor phone and internet coverage in our rural areas.”
Ms Kealy said the decision also directly affected local businesses, forcing some to keep large amounts of cash onsite. Other businesses lose customers who are forced to go out of town to do their banking and then do their shopping while they are there.
“At a time when the big four banks are making billions of dollars of profit, our regional branches are closing.
“It’s time they listened to their local communities and start to give back.
“We need to maintain access to local banking services in regional Victoria – our local communities depend on it,” she said.
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