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Bank bosses face probe over branch closures

September 19, 2023 8:08 am in by
"Proudly serving this community" boasts the sign on the NAB Ocean Grove branch, which is slated for closure (Google Maps)

The mass closure of regional bank branches is coming under the microscope with a senate inquiry preparing to grill bank chiefs over the coming week.

The investigation comes after 650 branch closures in regional Australia since 2017.

There are now only four banks left on the Bellarine Peninsula, with that number soon to be reduced further when the Ocean Grove NAB closes its doors in November.

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Westpac says transactions in regional outlets decreased by 39 per cent in the last five years, although it is not clear whether the drop is due to, or a result of, branches closing.

The company also said 96 per cent of its transactions are now digital, a trend it claims is reflected in the federal government’s online options for Medicare and Centrelink.

The inquiry will hold hearings this week in Launceston, Canberra and Junee in regional NSW.

Community groups, farmers and councils say banks have a social responsibility to provide services to rural areas, which rely on cash and face-to-face banking to conduct business and for tourism, sports events and fundraisers.

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