The Nationals WA have voiced their dissent over major Australian banks choosing to reduce service operations in regional WA following revelations Commonwealth Bank were severely cutting opening hours across 90 rural branches.
Local Member for Central Wheatbelt Mia Davies said the decision sent the wrong signal to hard-working communities who deserved face-to-face services all day, not for just a select few hours.
“Regional locals rely on bank presence for financial services and support so by cutting branch opening hours to less than four hours a day shows the big banks are clearly out of touch with regional Australians,” Ms Davies said.
“It’s not just CommBank failing regional communities either – National Australia Bank (NAB) has shut up shop in Wyalkatchem, Wagin and Three Springs, while ANZ has closed branches in Wongan Hills and Beverley.
“During a time of uncertainty, with a pandemic, significant weather events, and growing housing and health crises, this reduction adds insult to injury to regional West Australians already facing enough issues based on where they live.”
Ms Davies said The Nationals WA had always called for greater service delivery and accessibility in the regions, but unfortunately, decisions like this by organisational executives was a backwards step for those in regional WA.
“It is disappointing that in the wake of the Royal Commission into banking misconduct and the presence of another inquiry into banks impacting Australian exporters, some of the major players in the banking world continue to ignore their corporate-social responsibility to serve these communities.
“Instead of taking face-to-face banking opportunities away from businesses and residents, the banks should look at alternative options to keep personable financial support in regional towns, like creating a call centre in one of our regional towns.
“Redirecting customers, for example, half an hour from Wyalkatchem to Dowerin or to post-offices is unacceptable – regional residents deserve better ongoing accessibility.
“Instead of withdrawing services, the banks should be turning their mind to how they can assist in developing our regions, supporting our regional businesses and providing a service for those who can’t travel or access online banking.
“Banks need to have a presence in regional communities to understand their situation, and instead of closing doors and blaming a global pandemic, these organisations should work humanely and lend a helping hand wherever needed.”