Major Australian Banks Urged to Halt Branch Closures

Three major Australian banks have announced the closure of several of their branches, including CBA’s Aspley branch. The move prompted the Finance Sector Union to call for the cessation of branch closures whilst a Senate inquiry is ongoing.

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Three of Australia’s major banks, the Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CBA), Australia and New Zealand Banking Group (ANZ), and National Australia Bank (NAB), have announced that they will be closing down a total of nine more branches over the next few months, putting 27 jobs at risk.

CBA is scheduled to shut down branches located in Bull Creek, WA, and Aspley, Qld, in June, while ANZ will be closing down branches located in Clarkson, WA, Patterson Lakes, Victoria, and Lane Cove, NSW. In addition, NAB has announced the closure of branches in Jeparit and Inverloch, Victoria, Boonah, Qld, and Queanbeyan, NSW, all of which are expected to shut down in July.

A CBA spokesperson has explained that the decision to permanently close the Bull Creek and Aspley branches was made after a review and taking a range of factors into account. In particular, customer demand at these branches had progressively declined. The bank ensures that customers will continue to have access to banking services and that the majority of staff are redeployed with no job losses resulting from the closures.

NAB, on the other hand, stated that over 93 per cent of customer transactions now take place online, leading to a decrease in branch visits. The bank has had to make difficult decisions to reshape its branch network, considering various factors, including the number of customers visiting lower-traffic branches. NAB, however, reassured that there will be no job losses, and alternative roles will be offered within the bank.

Meanwhile, an ANZ spokesperson said that the bank has experienced a decrease of more than fifty per cent in in-branch transactions over the past four years, and only eight per cent of customers rely solely on branches for everyday banking.

Customers at the affected branches have been informed of the changes and provided with alternative services, such as mobile lenders and small business specialists, which can assist them at their convenience.

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Amid the ongoing Senate Inquiry into Regional Branch Closures, the Finance Sector Union (FSU) has urged the major banks to stop closing bank branches in both metropolitan and regional areas.

FSU National Secretary, Julia Angrisano, criticised the National Australia Bank (NAB) for its refusal to halt regional branch closures despite community concerns. According to Angrisano, NAB’s conduct is “outrageous and completely at odds with community expectations, and is a violation of its social license.”

CBA and ANZ have agreed to halt their regional closures whilst the inquiry is ongoing.

Angrisano, however, argues that the major banks’ massive profits should enable them to keep all their branches open, as they do not seem to care about customers and businesses that are impacted by these closures.

Angrisano added that the morale of bank workers is at an all-time low, as they wait to find out if their job and branch are on the list of closures.

“The major banks are making massive profits and yet they continue to shut down branches and they don’t care about customers and businesses who are impacted by these closures,” Ms Angrisano said.

“The morale of bank workers is at rock bottom as they wait to hear if their branch and their job is on the hit list.”

The FSU believes that all Australians deserve access to the full range of financial services, no matter where they live. The banks should be compelled to pause all closures in metropolitan and regional areas while the Senate Inquiry is underway.

Published 8-May-2023