To address the growing uncertainty over the financial system, in the face of rising inflation and interest rates, the increased risk of a domestic banking crisis because of our banks exposure to the property bubble, the increasing rate of bank branch closures and threat to viability of our postal service, the Citizens Party is spearheading a campaign to establish a public post office bank.
As part of that effort, the Citizens Party has drafted the Commonwealth Postal Savings Bank Bill, in coordination with Bob Katter MP, to establish a public post office “people's bank” similar to the way the original Commonwealth Bank started in post offices in 1912.
Importantly, the original Commonwealth Bank first proved its value as a public bank in the global financial panic of 1914, when it averted a “run” on all Australian banks by the actions of its Governor, Sir Denison Miller, who announced publicly that the Commonwealth Bank stood behind the deposits in all of the banks; consequently, the feared bank panic didn’t eventuate. (In London, which was the epicentre of the 1914 panic, the Commonwealth Bank’s London office was the only bank to remain open during the emergency.)
Like the Commonwealth Bank then, a new public post office bank will be able to guarantee deposits and provide financial services because it is owned by the government. Put simply, governments are far, far less likely to go bankrupt than private banking corporations are, so customers of public banks can have confidence that their deposits will always be honoured and they will have access to banking services.
Senate establishes broad inquiry into regional bank closures
On 14 September 2023, the Senate granted an extension of time to report until the last sitting day in May 2024
Press Conference from first public hearing in Sale, Victoria of Senate Inquiry into Bank Closures in Regional Australia
- Citizens Party Media Release - The outcry in regional communities over losing bank branches has motivated the Senate to establish a broad inquiry that will run all year.
This is a crucial opportunity for all affected communities, groups and individuals to challenge the banks’ reasons for withdrawing branch services, and explain the real-world impact of branch closures.
The inquiry will also consider solutions to the crisis, which provides an opportunity for supporters of a public postal bank to get the committee to examine the postal bank solution.
The banks claim that they are closing branches in response to their customers moving away from using branches and onto digital banking platforms, and that these are commercial decisions to maintain their profitability.
They also claimed they are working with Australia Post to continue to serve their customers who need face-to-face banking services.
The previous government’s Regional Banking Taskforce, established in late 2021 just prior to the federal election, accepted these claims by the banks, as reflected even in the terms of reference. This was not surprising, considering that eight of the eleven members of the Taskforce represented banks.
In accepting the banks’ justification, the Taskforce report, published by current Financial Services Minister Stephen Jones on 30 September last year, had the effect of giving the banks a green light to accelerate their branch closures. ... Read On
1 December 2023 - Citizens Party Testimony Senate Inquiry into Bank Closures in Regional Australia
ACP Research Director Robert Barwick and Executive Member Glen Isherwood gave testimony at the Senate Inquiry into Bank Closures in Regional Australia in Parliament House, on the public post office bank solution for about 25minutes. After a brief opening statement they answer Senator's Questions about the proposed solution of a Government Bank.
2 August 2023 - Senator Gerard Rennick: "I see no reason why we shouldn't have a public bank."
Senator Rennick (QLD) Statements by Senators: Banking is an essential service. Like most other essential services in Australia, we have both a private sector and a public sector. We have private and public schools and we have private and public hospitals, so I see no reason why we shouldn't have a public bank. I would like to point out the Robert Menzies government were quite happy with the fact that we had a public bank. There was never any need to sell off the CBA, the Commonwealth Bank, in 1992. Over the three tranches it was sold for $8 billion, yet today it makes $10 billion a year annually. We have got a serious crisis in this country whereby people cannot get access to proper banking services, especially in the regions, but we are seeing more and more branches closing in outer metropolitan areas as well.
I believe that a public bank can fill the gap left by the private banks who are failing to provide these services. They can provide face-to-face services in terms of cash, credit cards and lending. It's very important that we increase the range of products available to people. I don't believe is that competition in the banking sector in Australia is robust, and I'll give you one example. In the United States, you can get a home loan for up to 30 years, yet here in Australia the longest you can get a home loan for, in most cases, is five years. ... Link to Hansard
11 July 2023 - ABC Brisbane - Senator Gerard Rennick is interviewed by Steve Austin about the state of banking
As a result of the Senate Banking Inquiry, the Comm Bank’s has announced a three-year moratorium on closures of regional branches. While this is a positive step I believe they are just kicking the can down the road before they try to close branches again. Banks have a social license to service the community and should honour it.
There is real need for banking reform in this country, at both the retail and wholesale level. Serious consideration should be given to re-starting a public bank and insurance office, similar to the former Commonwealth Bank and State Government Insurance offices that would commit to keeping branches open. The bank can also offer longer term loans of 10-20 years for homeowners as well as tax-free savings accounts in lieu of Superannuation.. The Federal government should look reinsuring itself rather than underwrite private insurance companies to the tune of $10 billion. Forty percent of insurance costs are reinsurance costs paid offshore. It’s another way in which our government is allowing profits to go offshore, rather than use its sovereign powers to retain profits in Australia.
25 May 2023 - Senator Perrin Davey questions Australia Post about becoming a post office bank
Nationals Senator Perrin Davey (NSW) at the Senate Estimates hearing of the Environment and Communications Committee on 25 May 2023:
I have a couple of questions about Bank@Post, which I've asked you about in previous estimates. We know the broad and far-reaching stretch of Bank@Post services and the fact that they provide services on behalf of about 81 financial institutions across Australia. There has been quite a level of advocacy for a Commonwealth postal bank. Have you had conversations with those advocates about what that would mean for Australia Post and Bank@Post? ... Link to Hansard
6 Mar 2023 - Sen. Gerard Rennick - MATTERS OF URGENCY - Cost of living at crisis point—We need the ‘Sovereign Seven’ - Senate Speech
Rather than manipulate the price of money which will only help speculators and banks, the RBA should fund a Sovereign bank to fund the Sovereign seven Infrastructure assets – Dams, Power Stations, Roads, Rail, Ports, Airports and Telecommunications – to underpin Australia’s sovereignty.
This would deal with inflation in a productive way that creates jobs and provides essential services, rather than the destructive way the RBA is following of austerity which will cause massive unemployment and homelessness. - Link to Hansard
3 Mar 2023 - ONE NATION Senator Malcolm Roberts - What are regional banking options?
“A Postal Bank would fit Australia’s gap in regional banking services quite neatly and has been implemented successfully in Japan and New Zealand. The Postal Bank would convert current Australia Post branches into a proper national bank run by the government, providing face-to-face banking services to regional Australians. The benefits of the Postal Bank are many.” ... Read On
10 Feb 2023 - Greens NSW announce plan for a NSW public bank amidst rate rise chaos and mortgage stress
“Banking is an essential public service. You simply can’t operate in our modern society without a bank account - handing the reins of this vital public good entirely over to the private sector has been a disaster for households right across Australia ... We have the opportunity now to start taking back control of our banking system, by establishing a bank in NSW that is run by the people and for the people. Our public bank would put community needs front and centre.” ... Read On
5 Feb 2023 - KAP Media Release - Banks abandoning bricks and mortar but bigger issues at play: Katter
Private banks are abandoning rural Australians at an alarming rate and are relying on public-owned infrastructure – namely the Australia Post network – to plug the local service deficits left in their wake, Katter’s Australian Party Leader and Traeger MP Robbie Katter has said. ... The Traeger MP said establishing a “People’s Bank” designed to facilitate economic prosperity and rural and regional growth was a foundational policy platform for the KAP and had been the focus of extensive legislative efforts for the party at both the State and Federal levels. ... Read More
6 FEB 2023 - Statements by Members - Hon Darren Chester (NAT) - Member for Gippsland
The contempt of banking executives towards regional Australia is well known, with more than 1,600 branches closing in the past six years. In Gippsland, we've experienced dozens of closures in our smaller towns, but now Westpac is going a step further.
Forget about crooks wearing balaclavas; the real bank robbers are the executives making decisions in city boardrooms. These corporate bank-robbers are robbing country towns of jobs, they're robbing vulnerable people of services and they're robbing regional Australia of growth opportunities.
Westpac has just announced it's closing a branch in the city of Sale, which is a town of more than 14,000 people and services a much larger agricultural region. It is a town which is a centre of economic activity in that central Gippsland region.
My advice to Westpac customers in Sale is this: wherever possible, move your business. Move your business to a bank that still has a branch in your town. It's time to teach these bankers a lesson. Take your money across the street. Refinance your home loan. If Westpac executives only want to focus on their own huge profits, it's time to hit them where it hurts. It's time for customers to stop being held to ransom. It's time for the corporate bank-robbers to receive a message. Move your money to another bank. Link to HANSARD
6 FEB 2023 - Statements by Members - Mr Colin Boyce (LNP) - Member for Flynn
Last week customers of Westpac's Kin Kora bank branch in Gladstone were notified that their local branch was closing. This bank branch closure joins over 550 branches that have been closed by the big four banks since January 2020. Bank branch closures have occurred all over the Flynn electorate in Central Queensland in communities such as Gladstone, Tannum Sands, Moura, Biloela, Theodore, Emerald, Springsure, Capella, Mundubbera, Gin Gin, Gayndah, Gracemere, Taroom, Wondai and Mount Morgan. Small towns like Moura have difficulty when they host their annual events, like the Moura Coal and Country Festival, so they have to hire ATMs to have EFTPOS available at the secretary's office. Theodore's Bulls'n'Barrels Bonanza hires two ATMs, as it can't use EFTPOS due to poor communications and internet reception. The same thing happened at Jambin's Australia Day ceremony. Too many people were trying to access the wi-fi, which crashed the system and left people unable to purchase anything.
On many occasions, the big banks have advertised for customers to use online services. While this may be viable for some people, I have serious concerns for our elderly and those who rely on local bank services. Constituents in some communities have to drive hours to visit their nearest bank branch because of branch closures. It is simply not good enough. It's time for the big banks to put their money where their mouth is and continue their banking services in rural Queensland. Link to HANSARD
6 FEB 2023 - Katter Australia Party - Mr Bob Katter - Member for Kennedy
8 Feb 2023 - Michael McCormack (NAT) – Banking and Financial Services - Closing branches throughout regional Australia
I've been communicating today with the Mayor of Junee Shire Council, Neil Smith, and the general manager, James Davis, about their ongoing concerns about the closure of that wonderful railway and now jail town's only bank. The Commonwealth Bank is set to close its doors. ... Link to HANSARD
1 December 2023 - Stephanie Gardiner AAP - Banking ‘bullies’ leave vulnerable people open to scams
The major banks are “bullies” who are abandoning rural communities and leaving vulnerable customers at risk of financial scams, a Senate inquiry has been told. Nearly 800 bank branches have closed in regional and rural Australia since June 2017, according to the latest data from the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA).. ... Read On
Bank branches have been permanently closing their doors around the country and for those in regional areas their sudden absence has been particularly noticeable. Since 2017, close to 800 bank branches have been lost in regional and remote Australia. But at one town in Western Australia's Pilbara region, residents have been finding their own work-arounds to get their banking done.
Those looking for answers into regional bank closures near them in South Australia now have more time to provide their experiences to the senate inquiry. The hearing submissions deadline has been extended into 2024, with locals affected now having more time to write to the Rural/Regional Affairs and Transport Committee with their stories.
Over the past five years 30 per cent of Australia's bank branches have shut. That's the focus of a federal inquiry which has begun today in Sale, in Victoria's Gippsland region. Guest: Darren Chester, Nationals member for Gippsland.
2 Mar 2023 - ABC News - The Business - Banks told to put people before profits amid regional closures
Australia's big four banks are being asked to put people before profits when it comes to the closure of regional branches. Around a third of regional branches have closed in the past five years, leaving many Australians without vital services.
22 Feb 2023 - Ch.10 THE PROJECT - Community Tries To Save Its Only Bank As Banks Turn Huge Profits
Earlier this month, the Senate announced an enquiry into banning closures affecting rural and regional communities. One NSW town says enough is enough as they fight to save their town's banks.
Bank closures in regional areas are at crisis levels and now there'll be a major investigation into the issue, for the first time in almost two decades. pic.twitter.com/ntL06LPetd
A Senate inquiry into rural and regional bank closures was announced after the closure of 100 regional bank branches since September 2022. The first hearing is to be held in Sale, Victoria in March. The inquiry will look at the economic and welfare impacts of losing banks in regional Australia, as well as the process banks are following to close branches and the reasons being given.
23 Feb 2023 - SA Greens - Hon Robert Simms raises a Motion in the SA Parliament concerning Regional Bank Closures
22 Feb 2023 - SA Greens - Member Robert Simms asks a Question about Regional Bank Closures in the SA Parliament
There have been 92 bank branches closed or announced to close since September. Some of these banks are the only ones in the towns for hundreds of kilometres. ... Read On
17 Feb 2023 - Eliza Sayon Public Spectrum - Westpac defies Senate request on postponing regional bank closure
Seven more regional banks are expected to close this month, leaving regional communities to lose their only bank unless Westpac does not postpone their closure. ... Robert Barwick, Research Director of the Australian Citizens Party which campaigned very hard for the inquiry, asked whether it was acceptable to Prime Minister Albanese and Treasurer Jim Chalmers that the banks defy a Senate inquiry. ... Read On
10 Feb 2023 - Euan Morrisson Burnett Today - Where have all the banks gone?
Hundreds of bank branches have been closing across the nation and the federal Senate will be soon asking ‘why?’ ... Katter’s Australian Party Leader and State Member for Traeger, Robbie Katter, said ... he wanted to see a Commonwealth Government-owned banking corporation established under a proposed Commonwealth Postal Savings Bank Bill 2023, which operated through post offices, separately from the Australian Postal Corporation. ... Read More
Junee Shire Council is calling for the consideration of a Parliamentary Inquiry into Bank service levels in rural, regional, and remote Australia, together with the immediate suspension on all listed Bank Branch closures at the February 2023 Parliamentary sitting. ... Read Media Release
5 Feb 2023 -Sunraysia Daily - Robinvale loses another bank
ROBINVALE is set to lose another bank after Westpac announced its closure, only two months after ANZ said it would be shutting its outlet. Robinvale will be left with only a Commonwealth Bank branch when Westpac closes on May 12 and ANZ goes on May 18. ... Read On (Note: article is behind paywall)
25 January 2023 - Branch Closures - All the banks are in on it!
Questions from Michael Sanderson to the Annual General Meetings of the NAB, ANZ and Westpac banks.
Watch as the heads of these banks provide the same general answers to why they are closing a record number of branches across rural and metropolitan Australia without addressing the real consequences to the members of those communities, such as lowered quality of service, access to cash, economic and commercial non-viability, vulnerability to digital scammers, exploitation of Australia Post, etc.
This grassroots campaign is absolutely a fight we can win, not least because a postal bank is already a popular idea in Australia.
In Parliament it is supported by Katter’s Australian Party (KAP), Pauline Hanson’s One Nation (PHON), the Greens, and likely the National Party (at least most Nationals). Prominent members of both the Labor and Liberal parties also support the policy. The post office unions, including the Communications Workers Union (CWU) and its parent the Communications, Electrical, and Plumbers Union (CEPU), support a postal bank, as do the LPOs represented by the Licensed Post Office Group. See further information for more details of this support.
The goal of this campaign is to unite the existing support, and recruit more support, around the Commonwealth Postal Savings Bank Bill, to make this a front-line political issue and get the bill passed. It is up to the citizens of Australia to spread the word and build the support. This is how you can help:
1. Get this information into your community. Click on the image to Download PDF for printing or attaching to email.
Call 1800 636 432 if you would like to order physical copies and have them sent to you.
Some suggested places you can take one the information:
Local post offices
Local Federal and State Members of Parliament
Local Councils and Chambers of Commerce
Community leaders, clubs and organisations
Local businesses, especially those operating in shopping strips or immediate proximity to their local post office or in areas that have lost their local bank/s
Anyone who values and relies on their local post office, especially their banking services.
Victorian National Party Senator Bridget McKenzie deserves enormous praise and community gratitude for her fearless and powerful defence of stood-down Australia Post CEO Christine Holgate and the longsuffering small business licensed post offices (LPOs) fighting to get her reinstated.
The Citizens Party is deeply offended by the smear of racism and anti-Semitism that two Senators hiding behind parliamentary privilege used to attack the Licensed Post Office Group through guilt by association in yesterday
Christine Holgate’s explosive submission and testimony to the Senate’s Australia Post inquiry confirms the Citizens Party’s original suspicion—the attack that drove her out of Australia Post saved the Big Four banks from her plans to establish a public postal bank.
Stood-down Australia Post CEO Christine Holgate has never spoken to the media, but now she has made an explosive 150-page submission to the Senate Environment and Communications Committee’s inquiry into her removal.
Privatisers eyeing off a $5-10 billion theft of Australia Post, and $75 trillion in other public assets globally, are the other vested interest behind the removal of Christine Holgate over $20,000 worth of Cartier watches.