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‘Crisis point’ as 37 major bank branches close: ‘Must act’

·Personal Finance Editor
·3-min read
The logos of Westpac, NAB and CBA on the exterior of their respective bank branches.
More than 550 bank branches have been shuttered since the start of the pandemic. (Source: Getty)

Three of Australia’s Big Four banks have moved to close another 37 branches across the country in the coming months.

The Finance Sector Union (FSU) said the closing down of bank branches had reached a “crisis point” and said the Government must intervene.

“This latest list of closures means the Big Four have closed more than 550 bank branches across Australia since January 2020,” FSU national secretary Julia Angrisano said.

“We must act to stop the banks walking away from communities in our suburbs and towns.

“It’s time to examine the impact of these closures, which have hit hundreds of communities across the country.”

Angrisano said, for decades, the major banks had been supported by the Government as part of the “four pillars policy” but had failed to support local communities in return.

“Instead, the banks continue to shut down branches, sack workers and turn their backs on customers and businesses,” Angrisano said.

“Cost savings from branch closures are designed to increase the banks’ already-huge profits.

“The Big Four are said to be ‘too big to fail’ and have enjoyed government guarantees in the past, but they are not too big to regulate when it comes to the branch network.”

Westpac is set to close 24 branches, CBA is closing five and NAB is set to close eight banks.

Angrisano said the closures would result in the loss of 182 jobs.

“Communities depend on the banks to deliver financial services but if we don’t stop the current trend, there will be no branches left,” she said.

“The banks notify the FSU about upcoming closures. In this case, two banking brands are being withdrawn from the same location in Corrimal, NSW.

“Imagine the impact of losing two more banks in the same suburb.”

Angrisano said self-regulation had not worked and added that the Australian Banking Association’s commitment to consulting the community about proposed branch closures was being ignored.

“We need an inquiry into bank branch closures to assess the impact on local communities when the banks pull out of suburbs and towns,” she said.

“The UK has a formal ‘community impact assessment test’ and we need a similar test to ring-fence our branches and make sure banking services the public, which they derive their profits from.”

Angrisano said she would seek the assistance of the Albanese Government to ensure continuing delivery of banking services to the Australian community, especially in regional areas.

“The Morrison government did nothing to protect the public interest and maintain bank branches,” Angrisano said.

“They neglected this issue and now more regional communities are facing a future without a bank.”

Where are the branches closing?

Westpac:

  • NSW: Lakemba, Engadine, Corrimal, Kingscliff

  • QLD: Ashmore, Nerang, Rockhampton

  • VIC: Braeside, Whittlesea, Werribee, Lilydale

  • WA: Mandurah, South Perth

  • NT: Berrimah.

NAB:

  • NSW: Lavington, Narrandera, Corrimal, Figtree, Cronulla, Maroubra

  • QLD: Wynnum

  • VIC: Nth Melbourne

Commonwealth Bank:

  • NSW: Annandale, Toongabbie, Lindfield

  • VIC: Drysdale, Woodend

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