Banks are closing, despite an assurance given to the Senate Inquiry by the Commonwealth Bank that it would not close regional branches until the Inquiry concludes at the end of the year. Dale Webster reports.
THE COMMONWEALTH BANK is at it again.
While to be congratulated on its decision to put a three-year moratorium on regional branch closures in place, the Commonwealth Bank has dragged its co-publisher of the quarterly Regional Movers Index report into an embarrassing situation again by refusing to count its top destinations for regional migration as… regional.
The Regional Australia Institute (RAI) uses Commonwealth Bank data to compile the report, which has listed the Gold Coast, Sunshine Coast and Geelong as some of its most popular destinations for people choosing to leave city life behind in preference for a regional location.
But the Commonwealth Bank confirmed that when it comes to branch closures, it is choosing to follow a Bureau of Statistics classification that conflicts with the classification it uses with the RAI in the Regional Movers Index.
The decision leaves Australia’s three biggest regional cities – Geelong, Wollongong and Newcastle – as well as the Gold and Sunshine coasts and places such as Bateau Bay, Gosford, Maitland, Murwillumbah, Raymond Terrace, Katoomba, Bacchus Marsh and Mandurah, still vulnerable to the loss of their Commonwealth banks until 2026.
They are among 490 branches the Commonwealth Bank could choose to close at any time (see map below)
View Commonwealth Bank branches: major cities via full screen (Image supplied)
Nerang on the Gold Coast lost its CBA branch on 26 May despite a commitment given by the Commonwealth Bank to the Senate Inquiry into regional bank closures that it would not close any regional branches until after the committee reported to Parliament at the end of the year.
The branch was closed despite the Gold Coast being listed by the Commonwealth and RAI as the third most popular regional migration destination in Australia that quarter.
The Commonwealth Bank has also confirmed that its Bankwest branches – which are listed as Commonwealth branches in the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA) authorised deposit-taking institutions' points of presence (ADIPOP) statistics – are not included in the moratorium.
In good news, branches at Junee and Bright, which had been given a reprieve until December, are now safe for another three years.
A statement from the Commonwealth Bank declared:
Confirming branch locations are defined at an industry level, in line with APRA reporting requirements and other ABA [Australian Banking Association] member banks.
Branch locations are defined in line with the Accessibility/Remoteness Index of Australia (ARIA+), which is recognised as a leading indicator of remoteness in Australia.
ARIA+ is used by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) for its Australian Statistical Geography Standard (ASGS) Edition 3 and APRA for its annual ADI points of presence report. ARIA+ is an objective measure of physical distance of populations to services.
RAI has been contacted for comment.
Dale Webster is an inaugural recipient of a Walkley Foundation Grant for Freelance Journalism on Regional Australia. She publishes independently through her own title, 'The Regional'. You can follow Dale on Twitter @TheRegional_au.
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