Lithgow City Council’s Mayor Maree Statham is encouraging community members to make a submission to the inquiry into bank closures in regional Australia.
“It is unjust for the community to witness extraordinary profits begin made by the banking industry but a lower level of service being provided. Importantly, it is the people of regional Australia who are impacted the most. Then, the more vulnerable and isolated people in those communities are impacted even more,” said Mayor Statham.
“The theory behind bank branch closures is that so much can be done online. However, this is just plain wrong thinking. We know there is poor internet usage in the Central NSW region where only 72 .45% of households are connected to the internet, which is well below the 82.5% across NSW, or in other words, 17% of households don’t have the internet,” said Mayor Statham.
“When people are forced to leave the town to do their banking they also buy other goods and services. This reduces the money circulating in the smaller community economy, putting at risk other local businesses. The productivity of other businesses are also impacted as businesses and workers have to take the time to travel further to bank,” said Mayor Statham.
“The most vulnerable, least educated and oldest are most impacted and these have a greater representation in regional and rural Australia than other metropolitan areas,” said Mayor Statham.
“Some people will feel forced to change banks. This involves associated administration, loss of any long-term customer benefits and, for the less able members of the community, confusion and hardship,” said Mayor Statham.
“The assumption that online services are good enough to replace in person banking is flawed. Rather, it is disabling regional communities. The true measure of any society can be found in how it treats its most vulnerable members. Policy and legislation ought to be put in place that ensures that essential services like banking are included in a broader Community Services Obligation framework,” said Mayor Statham.
Submissions are due 31 March 2023. Lithgow Council encourages the community to have a say.
“Ironically, it is not as easy as sending an email or posting a letter. You have to go through a log in process at https://www.aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Committees/OnlineSubmission,” said Mayor Statham.