Historically, residents of regional Australia could always count on there being at least two businesses in every town: a pub and a bank.
A job in a bank was considered a job for life and the local bank manager was known to all, a pillar of the local community.
All that has changed but our values of fairness and equal access to financial services regardless of where you live, should not.
The Federal Government’s Regional Bank Branch Closure Taskforce is holding its next meeting in Red Cliffs in the Mallee region of Victoria on January 12 and is too little too late. The Big Four Banks are not going to re-open any closed branches and won’t take any decisions that endanger their mega profits.
In the past two years the major banks have closed more than 350 branches, many of them in regional areas. During that time the banks have closed 11 branches in the Mallee region with the loss of 40 jobs.
Research by the Finance Sector Union has shown that even when bank workers meet their targets, the reduction in customer numbers and branch transactions leads to their branch being slated for closure. These workers face high levels of job insecurity.
The majority of frontline retail banking staff are women which means that the job losses due to branch closures disproportionately impact women who have less job security than their male counterparts – who are more likely to work in business banking and sales roles.
Quotes attributable to Jason Hall, Finance Sector Union SA/NT Secretary.
“The Federal Government should not have waited until we are about to go to an election to set up this Taskforce. This is a cynical attempt to buy votes and curry favour with regional communities. It will do nothing except serve as a platform to boost the profile of local Coalition MPs and promote the lie that they care. When it comes to bank branch closures, clearly they don’t.”
“If the Taskforce had a genuine commitment to change and consultation, then its membership would include community groups that represent workers, consumers, and groups like the aged. Instead, the taskforce membership consists of the banks, their Australian Banking Association, and Australia Post which has a contract with the banks, plus local councils and local business representatives.”
“The FSU believes the major banks are showing no consideration for the millions of Australians in rural and regional Australia who are prevented deprived from managing their finances through a bank branch.”
“The closure of bank branches and pushing customers into digital banking has become a major cost saving strategy banks use to increase their already massive profits.”
Media contact John Hill 0412 197 079
11 January 2022