Regional communities right across northern Victoria are hurting as a direct result of bank closures, the Nationals Member for Northern Victoria Gaelle Broad has told Parliament.
Ms Broad called on the Regional Development Minister to support regional towns to ensure vital local banking services remain.
“This month the ANZ branch closes in Myrtleford. The Cobram and Robinvale branches have also been closed,” Ms Broad said.
“The National Australia Bank closed in Alexandra, and they continue to reduce operating hours in many regional towns.
“The Commonwealth Bank has already closed branches, and Bendigo Bank plans to shut 16 regional agencies, including Golden Square, Cohuna and Pyramid Hill.
“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.”
Ms Broad said she was very concerned for residents who rely on visiting a local branch – including older people; those with disabilities; and people who do not have English as their first language.
“I spoke with local mayors and neighbourhood house co-ordinators, and when banks close their doors, they are left to pick up the pieces.”
Ms Broad said local businesses were also affected. Some are forced to keep large amounts of cash onsite. Other businesses lose customers who go out of town to do their banking and then do their shopping while they are there.
These factors are made worse by poor phone and internet coverage.
At a time when regional branches are closing, the big four banks recently released their half-yearly results, over $16 billion.
“We need to maintain access to banking services in regional Victoria. Our local communities depend on it,” Ms Broad said.