Regional towns now suffer
THE dumping of nearly 200 bank branches across the country has prompted the nation's biggest bank to hand over $22 million to help fund alternative services.
A News Corp investigation revealed 196 bank branches and 734 ATMs have been removed across the country in just 12 months.
In many locations, particularly regional areas, Australia Post outlets have been forced to pick up the pieces and act as a bank branch, providing deposit and withdrawal services to those unable to do transactions at a local bank branch.
Commonwealth Bank's chief executive officer Matt Comyn confirmed they had renewed a five-year partnership with Australia Post to provide alternative services.
Australia Post has been in long-running discussions with the Big Four banks for months to come to an agreement on the amount they should be paid to provide bank services.
Australian and New Zealand Banking Group (ANZ) is yet to commit to continuing their services through Australia Post.
Following the closure of ANZ in the Central Queensland towns of Springsure, Middlemount and Clermont, Member for Burdekin Dale Last said their refusal to form an agreement with Australia Post was "just another example of the Big Four deserting regional Australia”.
Mr Last recently lodged a submission to the Banking Royal Commission and has also spoken about the issue in State Parliament.
"I'm not going to stand by and watch families relocate and small towns die due to a lack of banking services,” he said.
"It's not acceptable in 2018 that entire communities can be left for periods without access to their money or have to put up with limits on how much they can withdraw or even how much they can deposit.
"We are seeing the big banks raking in profits from customers who don't even have access to a bank branch and in a lot of cases can't even use internet services due to poor internet coverage.”
Mr Last said the issue had the potential to decimate rural towns, not only in Queensland but throughout Australia.
"What we are seeing today is community groups suffering because volunteers are being asked to transport money from fundraising events over 200 kilometres to a bank,” Mr Last said.
"When someone takes a four-hour round trip to do their banking they also do the shopping so you have supermarkets and local businesses losing income and that affects jobs.
"If the banks won't do the right thing voluntarily then there should be legislation to force them to do it.”
Australia Post's chief executive officer Christine Holgate has previously said the company's outlets don't get paid enough to cover the cost of the services and it had left a deficit of about $100 million.
"This investment will not only help save a critical service in post offices serving the communities of Australia, it saves jobs and supports the financial viability of our local post office partners,” Ms Holgate said.
ANZ bank responds to clients
A NUMBER of residents in regional Central Queensland towns are ANZ customers, and have been eagerly awaiting a response from the bank as to whether they would continue their services with Australia Post.
This week, an ANZ spokesperson said the recent closure of multiple branches came as "customers have been changing the way they do their banking in recent years with more of them using online options and ATMs rather than visiting our branches”.
"We will continue to meet our Queensland customers' needs through our digital, ATM and mobile lending services.
"There is no change for our customers using Australia Post to conduct basic banking transactions.
"Under the existing contract, ANZ customers will continue to have access to Bank@Post until January 2019. We are still working with Australia Post with hope of resolving the matter and are also looking at alternative solutions. We will communicate the outcome of this to our customers once finalised.”