East Gippsland Shire Council has advocated for its community at the Inquiry into Bank Closures in Regional Australia.
The Senate Inquiry’s first hearing was held in Sale on Thursday, March 2.
Mayor Cr Mark Reeves, Chief Executive Officer Anthony Basford, and General Manager Business Excellence Peter Cannizzaro attended to press the significant issues created by the closure of bank branches on local communities.
“East Gippsland is a large rural shire where our residents deal with isolation and long distances to access services. We contend that, instead of being purely commercial decisions, banks must consider the social impact of site closures, particularly on smaller communities that are long distances away from larger regional service hubs,” Mayor Cr Mark Reeves said.
“For many of our communities it is not as simple as moving banking transactions online.
"Poor telecommunication coverage through much of East Gippsland, together with system capacity and reliability constraints, already make it difficult for those transacting online.
"Areas of disadvantage and lower digital literacy also affect access to services.”
Council told the Inquiry bank closures are usually swift with no community consultation.
Council also said that no physical banking services in our towns creates cash handling issues for businesses, community organisations and events.
“Communities still need access to cash. Whether it be the local school fair, fundraising event, a garage sale, roadside stall or farm gate store or any event where a cash float is required, the need for cash exchange still exists, but the structures to support its use seem to be eroding.”
Council supports local banking services by investing in community banks in Mallacoota and Paynesville.
Council told the Inquiry if banks can’t provide a way for cash to circulate in regional communities, then government needs to step in and provide a suitable alternative mechanism.
“East Gippsland provides a Gross Regional Product contribution to the economy of Australia in the order of $2.66b every year. East Gippslanders should be afforded banking and other services to reflect their contribution to the State and Nation’s economies,” Cr Reeves said.
Members of the public can make a submission to the Inquiry by Friday, March 31. For more information on the Inquiry, see the Inquiries page on the Parliament of Australia website.