Australian Citizens Party Citizens Taking Responsibility



Will bank closures report match power of hearings?

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Lead Editorial

20 March 2024
Vol. 26 No. 12

For 12 hearings over 12 months, the Senators on the inquiry into bank closures in regional Australia have fiercely taken on the banks on behalf of the communities they are abandoning. The Senators’ questions, which have sharpened over the course of the hearings, have exposed:

  • The banks are closing profitable branches;
  • They don’t consult with communities before closing branches;
  • Branch closures throw communities into economic chaos;
  • Closures don’t stop customers from needing branches, they just force customers to drive vast distances to access them;
  • Banks don’t care about the impact on communities from finding it hard to access cash and having to drive vast distances;
  • Despite making bigger profits than ever, the arrogant banks feel entitled to dump the expense for serving their customers onto the taxpayer-owned Australia Post;
  • Despite telling customers to use Bank@Post, the callous banks can’t be bothered making simple changes like enabling their customers to update signatures at post offices, instead requiring them to travel vast distances to an actual branch to complete trivial tasks;
  • And much more, all of which proves that the self-regulated, entitled, and privileged banks are a law unto themselves.

The 12th hearing last Wednesday, at Tom Price in the Pilbara region of Western Australia, was as dramatic as the first hearing in Sale in Victoria in March 2023 and every hearing in between.


The Ashburton Shire, which is half the size of the state of Victoria, is probably the richest local government area in the world, being the source of WA’s iron ore exports which earn WA and Australia well over $200 billion per year. The Ashburton Shire President and CEO testified to the hearing that this shire which contributes so much wealth to Australia now has zero bank branches—zero! Out of desperation, but also from a quality of leadership that has not been shown by the two tiers of government above them, the Ashburton Shire representatives put forward the proposal that local governments combine to start a public bank to serve the communities that the private banks have abandoned.

A volunteer at the local softball club testified in excruciating detail about the torturous hoops volunteers are forced to jump through just to do something as simple as change a signature on an account, because the same banks that close local branches and tell customers to bank at the post office refuse to allow post office to do simple identity checks—even though the government authorises post offices to do far more significant identify checks for passports. The volunteer ended up having to pay $300 out of his own pocket for the fuel to drive five hours each way to the next bank to update the signature.

The local post office licensee told the inquiry how much his business has increased since the bank closed, from people needing Bank@Post, which Senator Slade Brockman observed proved that people used bank branches.

A local Aboriginal representative testified to the extreme destabilisation of the local indigenous communities from losing face-to-face banking services, but for some reason the richest, most privileged businesses in Australia are exempt from the national effort to “close the gap” between indigenous living standards and the rest of Australia.

The hearing was especially charged because BankWest had announced a week earlier it is going fully digital by October, closing 45 of its 60 branches and rebadging the remainder as CBA. Inquiry chair Senator Matt Canavan demanded BankWest participate in the hearing, and, like a prosecutor in a criminal trial, ripped apart BankWest’s testimony to show the representatives were empty suits, paying lip service to serving customers while pursuing their digital agenda.

But the question is: will Canavan’s report, due in May, match the power of these hearings? The inquiry proves the only way to reform banks is to re-establish a government bank that will restore basic standards in the banking system.

In this issue:

  • Why are Liberals trashing relations with WA’s biggest export customer?
  • Visit to Australia by Chinese Foreign Minister H.E. Wang Yi
  • ASPI’s Brit import demands ADF produce official war propaganda, spruiks re-colonisation
  • How Jeff Kennett’s Victoria paved the way to neoliberal hell
  • Fed chair: ‘There will be bank failures’
  • BRICS smooths financial wrinkles with win-win approach
  • Warring Israel is gripped by Biblical ‘end times’ view of the future: Middle East expert
  • Gaza, Assange, and the destruction of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights
  • Reality emerges: a public bank is the only solution!
  • ‘The wisdom of St. Patrick’: Development is the way to peace
  • ALMANAC: End US neo-colonialism in the Middle East!
  • ‘A Clean Break’

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Banking / Finance
Page last updated on 20 March 2024