Community facilities | April 17, 2019

Kealy - local banking must stay local

The Nationals Member for Lowan Emma Kealy has written to the Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews demanding he reverse the Labor Government’s mandate to remove State Government banking from local communities to Westpac’s Sydney branch.

Ms Kealy raised the matter in Parliament in February in a question to the Treasurer of Victoria who failed to respond within the 30 day timeframe required, leaving Ms Kealy with no option but to escalate the matter to the Premier.

Labor recently announced that all state-owned organisations such as schools and hospitals must close accounts with local banks and transfer their money into centralised Government accounts in Sydney-based Westpac Bank.

“We are already seeing the big banks close smaller branches and the Andrews Labor Government’s decision to close government accounts in our country branches is likely to result in even more closures,” Ms Kealy said.

“This latest directive has already hit the Coleraine & District Community Bank hard, with $4.1 million in deposits lost from one customer alone in February. This was followed last month by a further $1.9 million and the prospect of another $2.15 million this month as term deposits become due.

“These withdrawals translate to a direct drop in funds available for community investment by the bank of approximately $50,000 per year.

“Community Banks across Lowan provide vital support for many local projects which would otherwise be unfunded and unable to proceed without other external funding being obtained.

“The Coleraine & District Community Bank alone has distributed approximately $700,000 to their local area over recent years.

“Daniel Andrews directive will mean Community Banks will be unable to continue to fund the community facilities and projects that they currently support, something our rural communities rely on.”

In 2017/18, Bendigo and Adelaide Community Banks funded 4,584 community projects worth over $12.9 million in Victoria.

“If Daniel Andrews, Premier for Melbourne had any idea how rural and regional communities work, he would not be making this decision to move local money out of town,” Ms Kealy said.

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