Politics Opinion

Albanese's Government must intervene to halt regional bank closures

By | | comments |
The Government must do what it can to stop proposed regional bank closures (image by International Transport Forum via Flickr)

The Federal Government must act to halt regional bank closures, which would have serious welfare impacts, especially for the elderly, writes Dale Webster in an open letter to Prime Minister Albanese. 


For a federal parliamentary petition to be approved, the rules state the request must be for something the House of Representatives, the House, can do.

Just five months ago, a petition calling for an immediate moratorium on regional bank closures was signed off by your Government, published and subsequently received 5,000 signatures.

In defiance of a direct request by a Senate Committee investigating the economic and welfare impacts of regional bank closures to pause all planned closures while the inquiry was in progress, Westpac shut the last banks in the South Australian towns of Coober Pedy and Tailem Bend.

For the residents of Coober Pedy, the next banking option is 500 km away and out of reach of many, particularly the elderly.

Next week, Westpac is planning to shut down the last bank in the Western Australian town of Carnamah, an equally isolated but growing community.

Westpac also plans to shut banks in Hay, Moree, Katherine and Shepparton.

The National Australia Bank (NAB) and ANZ have also thumbed their noses at the Senate’s request.

NAB is planning to close Barraba, Clifton and Alexandra’s last banks, as well as branches in Longreach, Maffra and Belmont.

ANZ is closing 13 regional branches, including the last bank in Smithton Tasmania, which has lost two major banks in the space of months after the Commonwealth Bank also pulled out. The other planned closures are at Cessnock, Gunnedah, Lithgow, Moree, Mudgee, Muswellbrook, Tumut, Camperdown, Cobram, Moe, Myrtleford and Robinvale.

These banks are among more than 100 regional sites that have been closed or had closures notices issued by the big four since the end of September.

As a matter of urgency, I ask that your Government honour the message you sent Australians by approving the petition calling for a moratorium on regional bank closures, by using whatever means that are within your power to have these pending closures put on hold while the Senate Inquiry is in progress.


Dale Webster

POSTSCRIPT: I also write to inform you that the Carnamah Post Office, which will be the only location residents of this isolated town in West Australia will be able to only the barest of banking transactions if the planned closure of the Westpac branch goes ahead this Friday, does not have disabled access.

This is not only a clear breach of the Banking Code of Practice, it is also discriminatory and a breach of fundamental human rights.

I again ask you to please do something to help the people in this town. All they are asking is for this closure to be put on hold while your Government assesses the welfare impact of branch closures.

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.

Related Articles

Support independent journalism Subscribe to IA.

Recent articles by Dale Webster
The forces behind Australia's regional bank closures

The refusal of major banks to answer questions on the closure of regional branches ...  
Self-regulating banks can't be trusted: Senate Report findings

A Federal Government Inquiry into regional bank closures threatens to strip banks ...  
Meet the man who single-handedly destroyed NAB's reputation

After slashing National Australia Bank's regional branches by a third, CEO Ross ...  
Join the conversation
comments powered by Disqus

Support Fearless Journalism

If you got something from this article, please consider making a one-off donation to support fearless journalism.

Single Donation


Support IAIndependent Australia

Subscribe to IA and investigate Australia today.

Close Subscribe Donate