The Australia Local Government Association (ALGA) will work with a federal task force to mitigate the impacts of bank branch closures on rural communities.
The Regional Banking Task Force will “bring together banks and other key stakeholders to assess how bank branch closures have impacted local businesses, industries, and communities, and work collaboratively to identify possible solutions”, the federal government said last week.
The task force, to be co-chaired by Liberal MP and Assistant Treasurer Micahel Sukkar and NSW Nationals senator Perin Davey, will hold its first meeting early this month.
Banks have been progressively closing branches or downgrading face-to-face services for many years. The impacts of this are felt most acutely in regional and remote areas of Australia.
There are about 1600 communities around Australia without a bank branch, where the post office is the only financial services retailer.
ALGA maintains that a lack of banking and financial services can be a major obstacle to the growth and development of a regional district.
Fewer banking options in the bush also potentially threaten efforts to attract more people and businesses to our regions.
With more and more people choosing to bank digitally, it is imperative that regional communities have equitable access to telecommunications.
To that end, ALGA is advocating for a continuation of the Stronger Regional Digital Connectivity Package at a rate of $55 million over four years.
ALGA also supports the removal of remaining mobile blackspots to ensure rural communities stay connected and have access to the digital business services they need, including banking.
Anyone who wants to share any information or examples from their community of the impacts of branch closures can email ALGA’s Assistant Director Policy Grace Williams: firstname.lastname@example.org