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Westpac to shut down more bank branches across Australia

·3-min read
Pedestrians walk past a Westpac branch with a huge Westpac logo
Westpac is closing doors on seven more bank branches. (Photo by WILLIAM WEST/AFP via Getty Images)

Westpac is closing the doors on seven bank branches, including Bank of Melbourne branches, in Victoria and Tasmania as of next month.

From 15 October, Victoria’s Burwood, Newcomb, Carnegie, and Preston branches will be closed as the state battles its sixth lockdown.

Tasmania’s Westpac branch in Sorrell will also be shut.

Bank of Melbourne branches in Clayton and Port Melbourne are also due to close.

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According to a statement from the Financial Services Union (FSU), the jobs of 36 staff hang in the balance with these employees set to be redeployed or lose their jobs.

In early August, Westpac reduced the opening hours on 195 bank branches in Sydney in a bid to protect frontline staff during NSW’s protracted lockdown.

The seven branches facing imminent closure come on top of 48 Westpac branches that were shut earlier this year amid a major network restructure.

A spokesperson for the Big Four bank confirmed the latest branch closures with Yahoo Finance.

“When we do close a branch, it is not a decision we take lightly. We take into consideration customer usage, location and proximity to other banking services,” the spokesperson said.

The closures are in response to shifts in consumer habits as Australians increasingly prefer digital and cashless banking options, leading to reduced foot traffic to bank branches.

A man walks past a Westpac bank sign in Melbourne's central business district on May 4, 2020. - Westpac on May 4 announced its half-year net profit had fallen 62 percent, making it the latest Australian bank to see profits dive during the coronavirus crisis. (Photo by William WEST / AFP) (Photo by WILLIAM WEST/AFP via Getty Images)
Westpac bank sign in Melbourne's central business district. (Photo by WILLIAM WEST/AFP via Getty Images)

“Many of our customers are increasingly comfortable doing most of their banking online, but for those who would prefer face-to-face service we will continue offer our customers a range of ways to bank with us,” the spokesperson said.

“Branches will continue to remain an important service option, especially in areas that have high customer usage. In other areas Westpac will support customers with their banking needs via our Bank@Post option with Australia Post.”

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FSU national secretary Julia Angrisano said the closures followed that of six others in Western Australia, South Australia and Queensland that were also recently shut.

She accused the bank of “turning its back on the community”.

“Westpac knew last month it was closing down branches in Victoria and Tasmania and this latest announcement is nothing more than media spin to avoid the bad publicity of a big headline number,” Angrisano said.

“Our members in branches are concerned their jobs could be the next to go and that’s a difficult issue for staff who are working through the challenges thrown up by Covid.”

In the six months to 31 March this year, Westpac nearly doubled its net profits to $3.44 billion.

“Where does this end? Using the cover of Covid to decimate the branch network and throw large numbers of staff out of work is obscene,” Angrisano said.

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