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Westpac branch in Sale postpones planned closure after Darren Chester press conference

Federal Member for Gippsland Darren Chester says 'all options should be on the table' to guarantee a minimum level of service delivery to banking customers.

By news@gippsland - 17th February 2023 - Back to News

Federal Member for Gippsland Darren Chester has welcomed the decision by Westpac to not proceed with a planned closure of its Sale branch, at least until a Senate inquiry into regional bank branch closures is completed. The inquiry will travel to Sale on March 2 for a public hearing which will allow customers and community groups a chance to have their say about the impact of branch closures.

Federal Member for Gippsland Darren Chester speaking at a press conference in Canberra on the need for banks to provide more face-to-face services in regional areas

Federal Member for Gippsland Darren Chester speaking at a press conference in Canberra on the need for banks to provide more face-to-face services in regional areas

Start listening to customers

Mr Chester said, "I certainly welcome the announcement by Westpac, particularly in relation to the Sale branch which was scheduled for closure but there's a lot more to be done and all the big four banks are culpable when it comes to abandoning regional communities. Hopefully this means the banks are going to finally start listening to customers in regional areas and developing solutions which work for them."

"It's lazy to just shut branches when more innovative solutions are available which would mean the customers who need face-to-face banking services are treated with respect." Mr Chester said.

Fast-tracked closures

Mr Chester said he was disappointed the big four banks had fast-tracked branch closures in the aftermath of last year's Regional Banking Taskforce recommendations which called for an 'impact assessment' to be carried out before branch closures.

"The hypocrisy of the banking executives is obvious to everyone impacted by branch closures. They agreed to everything and then fast tracked more than 80 branch closures before the impact assessments recommendation came into force." Mr Chester said.

Explore innovative solutions

Mr Chester added, "The Senate inquiry is a chance to explore innovative solutions to maintain face-to-face services which are critical for small business owners and a wide range of customers who aren't capable of using online banking, or simply need some personal assistance at a branch to access their own money."

"If the banks refuse to play fair with their customers, I'm happy to explore options to add extra conditions on their licenses and more regulations to the outcome Australians want."

"The ongoing record profits of the major banks is proof they can afford to offer a better service but the executives in big cities haven't bothered to care about regional customers." Mr Chester concluded.

Pictures from Darren Chester MP website.


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