A Senate inquiry examining the impact of bank closures on regional Australia, has been extended to May. The inquiry was launched after banks closed up to 100 regional branches in the final quarter of 2022. Regional council representatives told the hearing that without intervention, rural Australia will be without the necessary banking services they need.
Representatives of the big four banks have urged the inquiry not to force them to keep a significant share of their branches open in regional areas. They say fewer people are using branches and cash, so it is unsustainable to maintain a presence in many areas. Riverina Regional Development Australia chief executive Rachel Whiting says the most disadvantaged people, including the aged and those less educated, who still need access to cash and in person banking services, will be significantly impacted by the closures. The inquiry has been extended to enable it to hear from community members from every state.