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  • Writer's pictureDale Webster

Open letter to Albo: Apparently you have the power to pause bank closures

Updated: Feb 22, 2023

ABOVE: Regional Australia is more than just a media opportunity.

Dear Mr 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.

ABOVE: Extract from the Parliament of Australia's petition rules.

Just five months ago, a petition calling for an immediate moratorium on regional bank closures was signed off on by your government, published and subseqently received 5000 signatures.

Yesterday, 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 500km away and out of reach of many, particularly the elderly.

Next week, Westpac is planning to shut the last bank in the West 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 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 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.

I ask that, as a matter of urgency, 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.


The Regional

PS: Further to my letter at the weekend I 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 basic human rights.

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

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