A GOVERNMENT taskforce will investigate why banks are shutting down country branches and the impact the closures are having on rural communities
Earlier this year, the big four banks blamed COVID-19 for the permanent closure of dozens of country-town branches, while in July the Commonwealth Bank announced it was reducing the opening hours of 90 regional branches.
Regionalisation Minister Bridget McKenzie said the taskforce would establish how the transformation within the banking industry, particularly branch closures, had affected those living in the regions.
"Having access to bank branches is vital for every community, particularly for residents who are unable to use online services to conduct their banking," Senator McKenzie said.
"As we have heard, bank branch closures in the regions also affect the liveability of towns, and so I am pleased to announce this taskforce will be looking at how we can keep banking services in rural Australia."
Nationals Senator and taskforce co-chair NSW Perin Davey said the inquiry would bring together stakeholders to find solutions.
"A taskforce is an important step forward because it will allow us to draw on the knowledge of the banks and businesses to find workable solutions to this issue," Senator Davey said.
"Banks and financial service providers have communicated to me a desire to find ways to service regional communities, and I look forward to exploring those constructive avenues through this taskforce."
Members of the taskforce include senior representatives from most of Australia's largest banks, Australia Post and several peak industry bodies.
The taskforce will hold its first meeting in early November and will release an issues paper for public consultation.
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