MARSHALL CONDEMNS MAJOR BANKS FOR SHAFTING RURAL AUSSIES

Tuesday, 6 March 2018

 

MP tells locals to give big four banks the middle finger

 

BANKING customers in rural and regional NSW should reconsider their ties to the big four banks – with branch closures showing a lack of interest in the bush, Member for Northern Tablelands Adam Marshall told Parliament today in a blistering attack on the country’s banking establishment

 

The local MP delivered the scathing rebuke on the floor of the Legislative Assembly today, dismissing the excuses provided by the financial sector and declaring “enough is enough.”

 

“Last year the big four collectively recorded a profit of more than $31.5 billion. Despite that, during that same period they closed 38 branches across regional Australia,” Mr Marshall told his parliamentary colleagues today.

 

“Our big four banks are amongst the most stable and profitable financial institutions in the world thanks to the considerable support and policy certainty offered in difficult economic times by the Australian Government and Australian taxpayers.

 

“However, when times are good, they have no compunction in gouging resources, branches and employees from our small regional communities which can least afford it.”

 

Mr Marshall said the Commonwealth Bank’s recent decision to close its Guyra branch was the last straw, listing several recent closures and partial shutdowns in Glen Innes, Uralla and Moree.

 

“How does a farmer bank a cheque using a phone app? How does a grandmother use a phone app if she wants to deposit money into her grandson’s account as he is heading to university? How does a small business owner get advice on restructuring their debt to stay afloat on their tablet device? Those customers will face a two-hour round trip to access basic banking services,” Mr Marshall said.

 

“Small businesses are the backbone of regional communities and without local bank managers, locals cannot access the critical financial information they need.”

 

Mr Marshall said the big four are run by ‘city based bankers’, “who have no understanding of country communities and no loyalty to the people who generate billions and billions of dollars in profits and shareholder returns annually.”

 

“My message to the people of my electorate is to give two big fat middle fingers to the big four banks because that is what they have been giving them and giving them consistently for years.”

 

Mr ADAM MARSHALL (Northern TablelandsMinister for Tourism and Major Events and Assistant Minister for Skills) (12:34): I draw the attention of the House to the concern and frustration being experienced by people and businesses that is known only too well to rural and regional members in this place. I refer to the continual withdrawal of services from our rural communities by Australia’s major banks. Time and again this country’s major banks have let down regional Australia. On behalf of my constituents in the Northern Tablelands and the many smaller communities that have suffered at the hands of the major banks, I say, “enough is enough.”

As members know, the banking sector is one of the largest contributors to our national economy. However, in most cases in rural and regional New South Wales and, dare I say, in rural and regional Australia generally, where they have hundreds of thousands of loyal customers, they refuse to contribute to the social fabric and the economic prosperity of local communities. Our big four banks are amongst the most stable and profitable financial institutions in the world thanks to the considerable support and policy certainty offered in difficult economic times by the Australian Government and Australian taxpayers. However, when times are good, they have no compunction in gouging resources, branches and employees from our small regional communities which can least afford it.

Rural and regional communities and individuals and businesses have shown nothing but loyalty to these institutions, often banking with the big four throughout their life. For the record, last year the big four collectively recorded a profit of more than $31.5 billion. Despite that, during that same period they closed 38 branches across regional Australia. In September last year, the ANZ Bank closed its branch in Glen Innes, which has a community of about 5,000 people. It claimed that its customers preferred to bank on their phones or tablet rather than to walk into the branch. It said, “Don’t worry, you can all access services in Armidale.” That is great given that Armidale is 110 kilometres away. That will be terrific for a pensioner or someone with a disability; they will be able to use a phone app to do their banking.

How does a farmer bank a cheque using a phone app? How does a grandmother use a phone app if she wants to deposit money into her grandson’s account as he is heading to university? How does a small business owner get advice on restructuring their debt to stay afloat on their tablet device? Those customers will face a two-hour round trip to access basic banking services. Farmers who have banked with the ANZ throughout their life are taking their accounts elsewhere. Why would they not? In fact, I encourage them to do so. It is ridiculous to suggest that a two-hour round trip is convenient. That was the response offered by city-based bankers who have no understanding of country communities and no loyalty to the people who generate billions and billions of dollars in profits and shareholder returns annually. It would appear that shareholders are far more important than people who have banked with these institutions throughout their life, and for some families in country areas that could be for generations.

Despite posting a record profit of nearly $19 billion between 2015 and 2017, the National Australia Bank (NAB) shut more than 50 branches and scrapped more than 6,000 jobs during that period. People in the Northern Tablelands can forget about banking with the NAB in Uralla on a Tuesday or a Wednesday because the branch is closed on those days. The Guyra branch is also closed two days a week. In January this year, staff of the Westpac branch in Moree could not be bothered letting locals know that its opening hours had changed. They simply Blu Tac a handwritten note to the door each Friday telling customers that the branch is closed and that they should do their banking at the Narrabri branch, which is a 200 kilometre round trip. That is great! That happened at the same time Westpac announced an $8.1 billion profit. Despite that, it has no qualms in charging the good people of Moree $7.50 to receive a paper statement in the mail showing how much of their money the bank is holding.

Not to be outdone, the Commonwealth Bank – the biggest of them all – sent me a letter last week advising that its Guyra branch would be “absorbed” into the Armidale branch.

I have seen a fair bit of spin in this place but that takes the cake. The bank is actually shutting the branch in Guyra and those people will have to travel to Armidale for their banking, despite the bank posting a $9.93 billion profit last year. Elderly people and those with disabilities will have bugger-all banking facilities in the community of Guyra. This trend is being seen right throughout rural New South Wales. My message to the people of my electorate is to give two big fat middle fingers to the big four banks because that is what they have been giving them, and giving them consistently, for years.

 

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