A task force established to investigate the impact of bank branch closures on regional communities has been disbanded before it was able to release its final report.
- Regional communities are no closer to finding alternative banking solutions after the disbanding of a banking task force
- The task force was unable to release its final report, which outlined how banks could re-think operations in regional areas
- The federal opposition government wants the working group to deliver its recommendations
The Regional Banking Taskforce — featuring representatives from the big four banks, peak industry bodies, Australia Post and local governments —was established late last year by the Morrison government.
Following Labor’s federal election win earlier this year, the working group has been dissolved.
Nationals deputy leader Perin Davey said it was important that the task force completed its work by releasing a final report.
“It would be a really poor outcome if the good work that has occurred was left languishing on a shelf,” she said.
“I saw a draft final report which was OK, but didn’t quite go far enough in my mind.”
Ms Davey said a big concern for regional communities that was not properly addressed by the task force was how regional towns that did not have bank branches would access cash.
“Small businesses then have to pick up the cost of transferring cash into those communities, whereas before it would come through the bank,” she said.
Federal assistant treasurer Stephen Jones said he was in support of the task force completing its work and that he would soon receive a copy of the report, which would include the task force’s findings.
He said the task force’s findings was expected to “identify alternatives to bank branch models that would maintain or improve banking services and accessibility in regional areas”.
Closures to impact communities
Local mayor, Neil Smith, said it was a shame the town would be losing its final bank.
“It affects a particular cohort of the community, one of those being older residents who don’t necessarily have the skills to use internet banking,” he said.
According to the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority, more than 470 regional and rural banks closed between mid-2017 to mid-January 2022.
The task force was expected to present its recommendations to the Treasurer in February.