Wednesday, March 29, 2023



NAB Rural Commodities Index stabilises after a rocky start to 2023  

After steep falls in late 2022 and early 2023, many Australian agricultural commodity prices have stabilised, according to the NAB March Rural Commodities Wrap released on 27 March 2023. While the NAB Rural Commodities Index* was down 1.2% in February, almost all of the downside was driven by falling cattle prices as the industry faces parallel challenges of higher turnoff, processor constraints and tough global conditions.

Plea to banks

Shadow Minister for Regional South Australia, Nicola Centofanti, is pleading with banks to not remove their services from Naracoorte and its surrounding townships. Ms Centofanti said while it was unfortunate, the Liberal Party was “seeing an alarming trend” where banks are withdrawing their services from regional centres in South Australia.

Desperate measures to keep bank open

The proposed closure of the Bank SA branch in Kingston will have a devastating impact on the township, its neighbouring communities, and businesses that rely on rural banking. This was the sentiment echoed by almost every member of the public who attended the committee consultation on the future of Bank SA organised by the Kingston District Council on Wednesday.

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.

Australia Post banking expansion in “national interest”: Katter

Australia Post’s future lies in the ability of the public-owned service to diversify and meet the needs of a modern-day nation that is being strangled by grotesque free-marketeers, Katter’s Australian Party Leader and Traeger MP Robbie Katter has said ... Mr Katter said, with its well-established network of branches, an expansion of Australia Post into the personal and business banking space was in the “national interest” and now was a golden opportunity for transformation.

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.

Westpac delay welcomed

Patricia Gill. Denmark’s Westpac Bank is among eight regional Westpac banks Australia-wide whose closure has been postponed ... The closure of Westpac would leave the town with one bank operating, BankWest. Denmark’s NAB branch closed on February 9 after scaled-back opening hours and the bank citing a ‘new model’ affecting 114 small regional Australian branches.

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.

Softening cattle prices reflect ag commodity volatility: NAB

Australian agricultural commodity prices have continued to fall in the new year with the NAB Rural Commodities Index* now 14.4% below year-ago levels. Lower beef cattle prices and to a lesser extent, grain prices, are the key drivers of the weakening in the Index, according to the NAB February Rural Commodities Wrap.

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.

Junee losing Commonwealth Bank, who will be next?

Junee Shire Council is fighting back against the Commonwealth Bank of Australia’s (CBA) decision to close the last remaining financial institution in its town. CBA, who announced a $9.2 billion net profit last year, is pushing ahead with plans to permanently shut its Junee bank branch and ATM in March, despite pleas from residents who now face an hour-long round trip to Wagga for transactions and loan services.

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.

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. Speaking following news that Westpac would close its branches in Cloncurry, Tully and Ingham while NAB would depart Longreach in the coming months, Mr Katter said there was a growing onus on governments to intervene in the growing failure of banks to service the regions.

No banks or cash in 10 years says Speirs

Chris Oldfield. There won’t be any banks in Naracoorte or anywhere else in 10 years’ time – not in the country or the city, according to Opposition Leader David Speirs. Mr Speirs said there won't be any cash in 10 years time either ... “There won't be any banks in Naracoorte or anywhere else in 10 years’ time. There are no banks in my electorate,” Mr Speirs said ... “So, let's not allow our progress to be held back by that.”

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.

As 2022 draws to a close, what’s ahead for ag commodities in 2023: NAB

Despite agricultural commodity prices retreating last month to the same level as November 2021, many Australian producers are seeing their most profitable period in living memory as 2022 draws to a close. Released on 19 December 2022, NAB’s December Rural Commodities Wrap reports the bank’s Rural Commodities Index was down 2.6% in November on the back of increasing volatility in livestock and grain markets.

No regional Australians, things aren’t quite as the banks say

The Federal Government’s Treasury Department now has in its possession pages of first-hand accounts from bank staff admitting that they have been working under orders to move customers away from face-to-face banking and on to digital channels ... It is the first time hard evidence has been available to prove these long-suspected practices exist, yet the information, provided to the Regional Banking Taskforce through the Financial Sector Union, was ignored by the Government in its final report.

Animal protein producers and processors must pivot in 2023 to secure future: global Rabobank outlook

Animal protein producers and processors face an “inflection point” with a need to respond to structural changes in the market even with production levels and prices likely to remain elevated next year, according to a new report by agribusiness banking specialist Rabobank.

Banking taskforce report opens the gate for mass closures

The number of banks closed in regional Australia in the six weeks since the Albanese Government quietly released the Coalition’s Regional Banking Taskforce final report is comparable to a dam opening its spillways. The blame for the acceleration – at least 71 branches across all states and territories – can be laid squarely at the feet of the two opposition MPs who led the inquiry, Michael Sukker and Perin Davey, and Assistant Treasurer Stephen Jones, who released the report.

NAB to close local branch in new year

Patricia Gill. Denmark's NAB branch will close February 9. Denmark Chamber of Commerce president Chris Langslow called the closure disappointing, particularly for small businesses and retailers/hospitality businesses which required cash and cheques.

APRA’s clean-up of bank data errors leaves statistics in chaos

Australia's banking regulator has been significantly over-stating regional branch numbers for decades due to false reporting by banking institutions. The Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA) became aware of the errors in May 2021 and has been quietly correcting the hundreds of instances where banks have claimed they are providing full branch services – including the face-to-face provision of cash – but have not been.

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