The Australian Alert Service is the weekly publication of the Australian Citizens Party.
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12 July 2023
Vol. 25 No. 28
Coming into 2023 Australia’s two biggest banks Westpac and CBA had no intention of stopping branch closures. Along with ANZ and NAB they were taking full advantage of the pathetic Regional Banking Taskforce report to massclose branches everywhere. By their own admission they have a timeframe in which they have planned to go cashless and force us all into fully digital banking, and everything they’ve been doing is part of their relentless march towards that goal.
But then they ran into the Australian Citizens Party, and our growing force of collaborators.
CBA’s announcement of a three-year moratorium on regional branch closures demonstrates the power that the people and their elected representatives can have when they take on the Money Power. Yes, CBA has been typically disingenuous, by only applying its moratorium to regional branches, and only to CBA-branded branches, not the 37 regional branches in WA of its wholly owned subsidiary BankWest. But that’s the true nature of banks—they don’t do anything in good faith out of the kindness of their hearts, they only do what they are forced to do. CBA’s slipperiness simply proves that this was an action they were forced into—by us!
Following Westpac’s announcement in May that it had reversed eight planned branch closures, CBA’s decision shows that the scrutiny of our campaign, and the Senate inquiry we have achieved, has the banks on the run. Everywhere you turn now, the issue of branch closures and the backlash to banks going cashless is fuelling public anger and attracting enormous media coverage. The ACP is now regularly invited onto the biggest radio stations in the capital cities to discuss the issue. Today and tomorrow a different Parliamentary committee, the House Economics Committee, is grilling the CEOs of each of the Big Four banks, and its chairman Daniel Mulino has foreshadowed that branch closures will be on the agenda. On 10 July the Senate inquiry into the cost-of-living crisis heard testimony from the Tasmanian Small Business Council, whose chairman Geoff Fader took the opportunity to raise the crisis of branch closures and call for a post office people’s bank solution.
What is very important about this campaign is that not only are we forcing backdowns from the banks, but we are showing the Senators involved, and all other politicians, that they do have power against the banks. Battles are won and lost between the ears, and for too long politicians in Australia have been defeatist when it comes to taking on the banks. This entire saga of branch closures illustrates it. The Nationals in 2021 knew their regional constituents were getting sick of bank closures, which they had done nothing about in nine years, so ahead of the election they and the Liberals convened their Regional Banking Taskforce, but felt it had to include the banks. When the banks rigged the outcome and used the Taskforce report to give themselves the green light to accelerate branch closures, the Nationals and Liberals tried to put lipstick on their pig and pretend the Taskforce was the best they could do. It was only thanks to the personal commitment of Senator Gerard Rennick, who responded to the pleas of towns like Coober Pedy, Carnamah, and Junee, and requests from independent journalist Dale Webster, banking expert Martin North and the ACP, that an unlikely inquiry was established. But because this is an issue of genuine grassroots concern, the inquiry fired up from the very beginning and politicians of all parties have jumped on the bandwagon. The banks have learned this isn’t a runof-the-mill political whinge-fest like they have weathered many times before, which some banks have been quicker to understand than others (p. 3).
No doubt the banks are relieved that Senator Rennick lost his Liberal Party pre-selection, but they shouldn’t be— he has at least two more years and, more importantly, this fight is recruiting more politicians to follow his example!
In this issue:
- Senate inquiry saves CBA branches in 320 towns; ACP says nationalise NAB!
- Infrastructure go-slow won’t fix inflation!
- Mortgage stress skyrockets, and worse to come
- Part One: Britain contrives ‘Chinese military recruitment’ allegations
- Washington battles a China that doesn’t exist
- NATO’s provocative lurch eastward and the ‘supreme fool’ Jens Stoltenberg
- An Asia-Pacific NATO: fanning the flames of war
- Backlash grows to banks behaving badly
- Full employment is not a curse, nor a pipe dream!
- ALMANAC: Reform of the banks and the wider finance sector