Senators Canavan and Rennick welcome the Commonwealth Bank’s commitment to halt regional bank closures while the Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport Committee’s inquiry into regional bank closures is ongoing.

Since September 2022 there have been 92 bank branches either closed or slated for closure and last week the Regional and Rural Affairs and Transport Committee called for banks to put a halt on closures while an inquiry into regional banking closures was undertaken.

The Commonwealth Bank’s announcement will mean that bank branches at Junee in NSW and Bright in Victoria will remain open.

The Commonwealth Bank’s announcement is welcome news. This news is a great relief to the small towns of Junee and Bright. Other affected towns now can have hope that the other banks will follow the Commonwealth’s lead, do the right thing and pause any closures while local communities have their say” Senator Canavan, Chair of the Senate Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport Committee said.

“All of the major banks support the Voice to Parliament. Now is their chance to show that they have a commitment to listen to the voices of regional Australia, including indigenous Australians impacted by their impending closures.”

National Australia Bank, Westpac, St George, ANZ, Bankwest, the Bank of Melbourne, and BankSA have all closed branches or announced closures.

Senator Rennick said closing banks is robbing country towns of jobs and growth opportunities and is stripping vulnerable people of vital services and access to cash.

The Courier Mail was calling for a boycott of Westpac this weekend in its Irritant of the Week column following the closure of the Cloncurry branch that forces families to drive hundreds of ‘miles’ to another,” Senator Rennick said.

Banks have a social responsibility to provide banking services to all Australians regardless of their location. Not everyone has easy, reliable access to the Internet and need face-to-face banking.

“I welcome today’s announcement by the CBA and call on the other banks to do the same.”

The Senate’s inquiry will investigate the branch closure process, including the reasons given for closures; the economic and welfare impacts of bank closures on customers and regional communities; and the effect of bank closures or the removal of face-to-face cash services on access to cash and is due to report its findings in December.

Submissions to the inquiry are open until 31 March 2023. Further information, including how to make a submission, can be found on the Rural and Regional Affairs Committee website here

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