Westpac walks away from regional Queensland

Feb 6, 2023

Westpac walks away from regional Queensland

Feb 6, 2023

The alarming trend of regional bank closures is making it increasingly difficult for non-metropolitan based businesses and residents to access their banking needs. The latest announcement from Westpac to close its doors in Ingham from the 19th of May this year has left customers and bank employees high and dry.

Branches in Tully and Cloncurry are also bound for closure in a decision that Hinchinbrook MP and Katter’s Australian Party (KAP) Deputy Leader Nick Dametto said is a brutal blow for the regional communities that are already starved of services those in larger centres take for granted.

Mr Dametto said his thoughts first went out to the Westpac staff who face an uncertain future and also expressed his concern for the many elderly residents, community groups and businesses, that relied on the branch for face-to-face assistance.

“It’s completely unfair to elderly or vulnerable residents who will likely lose their independence by relying on family or friends to help them with internet banking, or go through the stress of switching banks,” he said.

“Westpac claims that a change in customer behaviour toward electronic banking is the reason for the branch closures when we all know very well that customers are in fact being forced to switch to electronic banking without a choice.

“Westpac is the fourth banking institution to abandon the Hinchinbrook Shire since 2018 leaving customers with very little choice and in some cases nowhere to go if they are seeking face-to-face service with their bank.

“We’re crying out for people to move to the regions to fill vital roles but we can’t attract people to move unless we’ve got services, and the bean counters from the big city are working against that and have decided that the regions don’t matter anymore.”

Mr Dametto said that greedy, profit driven banks were more than happy to set up their infrastructure in the regions when Agribusiness was building this country, but since there was a shift in the wealth, they’ve abandoned ship.

“As unfortunate as this latest announcement is, it adds more credibility to the KAP’s argument to introduce a people’s bank to take up the void left in the regions.”

The KAP has always supported the idea of a State-owned bank conducted by Australia Post or a separate people’s bank that could compete with the big four.