Stop bank clo­sures in drought-af­fected NSW

The Free Press (Corowa) - - FRONT PAGE -

NSW Op­po­si­tion Leader Luke Fo­ley is call­ing on the ma­jor banks to halt their clo­sures of branches in re­gional towns while the state is in the throes of the worst drought in a gen­er­a­tion.

Mr Fo­ley has writ­ten to Prime Min­is­ter Scott Mor­ri­son re­cently ask­ing him to sup­port a mora­to­rium on branch clo­sures, as well as de­mand greater com­pli­ance from the banks with their own code of prac­tice.

Mr Fo­ley trav­elled to Dun­gog in the Hunter Val­ley to high­light the plight of that par­tic­u­lar com­mu­nity which is set to lose its lo­cal branch of the National Aus­tralia Bank at the end of the month. The West­pac in town has al­ready closed.

Bank branches are im­por­tant to lo­cal com­mu­ni­ties as they pro­vide con­ve­nient ac­cess to es­sen­tial fi­nan­cial ser­vices.

ANZ con­firmed re­cently that it will be of­fi­cially clos­ing its Corowa branch on Oc­to­ber 9.

Mr Fo­ley said that in a time of drought-in­duced stress these es­sen­tial ser­vices are a vi­tal part of a com­mu­nity; their clo­sure would only serve to un­der­mine that com­mu­nity’s con­fi­dence in its eco­nomic fu­ture.

“The state is deal­ing with the dam­age of a se­vere drought and farms, fam­i­lies, busi­nesses and in­di­vid­u­als are all feel­ing its im­pact,” Op­po­si­tion Leader Luke Fo­ley said.

“Now is the time to be sup­port­ing our re­gional and ru­ral com­mu­ni­ties not aban­don­ing them.

“Clos­ing a bank could sound the death knell of some ru­ral com­mu­ni­ties and that is why there must be a mora­to­rium on any fur­ther branch clo­sures.

“I have ac­knowl­edged and wel­comed the drought as­sis­tance pack­ages of­fered by the Com­mon­wealth and State Gov­ern­ments but we can do more and that is why I have writ­ten to the Prime Min­is­ter to seek his sup­port for a mora­to­rium on bank branch clo­sures.”

A cam­paign by the Fi­nance Ser­vices Union, the union that rep­re­sents bank work­ers, has been gath­er­ing steam and is at­tract­ing sup­port across the com­mu­nity.

If Prime Min­is­ter Mor­ri­son were to lend his sup­port to the cam­paign the banks could be forced to act, es­pe­cially if, as a con­di­tion of their li­cense, they are re­quired to com­ply with their own code on the is­sue of branch clo­sures.

Luke Fo­ley wants banks to stop clos­ing in re­gional drought ar­eas.

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