Thursday, June 8, 2023

Dale Webster, The Regional


Westpac a no-show after public humiliation at first senate hearing into bank closures

Westpac should have been fronting up at the second hearing of the Senate inquiry into regional bank closures in Cloncurry this morning but after the beating it took during the first hearing at Sale in March, it appears it was not prepared to face an angry mob in a town where it was planning to close its local branch ... It has presented an ideal opportunity to have a close look at the grilling its executives received at Sale and remind readers that this is the bank with the worst track record leaving communities without banking services.

Commonwealth Bank breaks pledge to pause regional bank closures

The Commonwealth Bank is closing a branch in an area it has itself labelled one of Australia’s most popular destinations for regional migration, breaking its pledge not to shut any regional branches while a senate inquiry into the impact of bank closures is in progress ... The Commonwealth Bank’s interpretation leaves Australia’s three biggest regional cities – Geelong, Wollongong and Newcastle – as well as the more densely populated regions along the east coast and places such as Bateau Bay, Gosford, Maitland, Murwillumbah, Raymond Terrace, Katoomba, Bacchus Marsh and Mandurah still vulnerable to the loss of their Commonwealth banks this year as they fall in the same category.

Senate inquiries are serious business and no place for spin

Contempt of the Senate is a pretty easy thing to get your head around. Witnesses at hearings who give false or misleading evidence run the risk of being hauled in front of the privileges committee for a “please explain” ... There’s a lot that could be considered as misleading in NAB’s testimony at Sale but saying they are “committed to being where its customers are” is the first outright fib given in evidence to this parliamentary inquiry.

Farewell Mickey, 48 years (and possibly more) is a great effort

There is a Shetland-sized hole in the hearts of the Scott family of Emu Creek this week after they said goodbye to Mickey, just shy of his 50th birthday ... It is believed Mickey was used for pony rides at the Melbourne Zoo and at metropolitan race meetings in his younger days but ended up in Bendigo at age 36 when his owners moved into aged care.

Bank body silent on disabled access breach of its Code

Today we learned three things: the Banking Code of Practice isn’t worth the paper it is written on, the format for emailing Westpac executives directly and that Anna Bligh’s Australian Banking Association will only engage with journalists who give them an easy run.

Open letter to Albo: Apparently you have the power to pause bank closures

Just five months ago, a petition calling for an immediate moratorium on regional bank closures was signed off on by your government, published and subsequently received 5000 signatures. Yesterday, in defiance of a direct request by a senate committee investigating the economic and welfare impacts of regional bank closures to pause all planned closures while the inquiry was in progress, Westpac shut the last banks in the South Australian towns of Coober Pedy and Tailem Bend.

Westpac’s deception by omission will not be forgotten

I’m sure there will be beers all round tonight for the Westpac communications team who managed to flip the bird at six federal senators this week and pull off one of the most stunning PR subterfuges I have ever witnessed. It was stunning for the range of those who fell into the trap and the breadth of media who picked up and reported the story without question – from the senators themselves to seasoned journalists in national newsrooms.

With its back to the wall, Commonwealth Bank halts closures

Junee is one of the first towns to benefit from a parliamentary call for banks to halt all planned branch closures until a senate inquiry reports back at the end of the year. The Commonwealth Bank is the first of the big four to act on the official request, sent Friday, with Junee and Bright closures put on hold.

Senate to hold first regional banking inquiry in 19 years

A motion to hold Australia’s first parliamentary inquiry into regional bank closures in 19 years has passed through the Federal Senate this afternoon. The new inquiry will look at the economic and welfare impacts of branch closures in regional Australia, as well as the process banks are following to close branches and reasons being given.

The good, the bad and the ugly of regional banking in 2022

“There is not one bank still open in our local area. How much cash will the supermarket give me? So far I’ve only asked for $100 each fortnight because there are still transactions to be paid in cash. Now for Christmas and gift giving I need much more because after two operations this year I’m not very mobile so cash will be for gifts.” ... Lack of access to a bank or ATM adds a layer of complexity to this time of year that our politicians just don’t seem to be able to fathom.