CANBERRA, AAP – A government task force including the big four banks will assess the consequences of regional branch closures for country communities.
Ministers will hold their first meeting with banks, peak bodies and Australia Post in November to examine how closures have affected local businesses and industries.
Regionalisation Minister Bridget McKenzie says access to bank branches is vital, particularly for residents unable to bank online.
“As we have heard, bank branch closures in the regions also affect the liveability of towns and so I am pleased to announce this task force will be looking at how we can keep banking services in rural Australia,” she said.
The task force includes senior representatives from the big four banks, Bendigo and Adelaide Bank and the Bank of Queensland, as well as peak industry and local government bodies.
“It will allow us to draw on the knowledge of the banks and businesses to find workable solutions to this issue,” task force co-chair and Nationals senator Perin 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.”
The Reserve Bank of Australia says about 250,000 Australians live more than 15 kilometres from their nearest cash withdrawal location.
A quarter of people in very remote areas need to travel more than 15km for access, while a little over five per cent must travel more than 100km.
The task force will release an issues paper for public consultation following its first meeting in early November.