The imminent closure of Guyra’s Commonwealth Bank branch sparked a blistering attack from Northern Tablelands MP Adam Marshall.
Last week, the Commonwealth Bank announced its Bradley Street branch will close in May.
Mr Marshall denounced the nation’s banks’ indifference to regional Australia in state parliament on Tuesday.
“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,” he said.
A Commonwealth Bank spokesperson said the organisation knew “a branch leaving town is a disappointing thing”.
“Unfortunately, it’s just a matter of declining transactions over the years,” the Commonwealth Bank spokesperson said.
Transactions at the Guyra branch have declined by nearly 40 per cent, as customers use online or phone banking.
Commonwealth will keep an ATM in town, while customers will be able to bank through the post office, electronically, or visit the nearest branch in Armidale.
ANZ shut its Glen Innes branch in September, while the National Australia Bank has reduced its services in Guyra and Uralla to three days a week.
“The continual withdrawal of services from our rural communities by Australia’s major banks” caused concern and frustration for regional Australians, Mr Marshall told his parliamentary colleagues.
“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.’”
Mr. Marshall noted that while the four big banks made enormous profits of more than $31.5 billion last year, they had closed 38 branches across regional Australia.
“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,” he said.
“They 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.”
The bank is already losing one client.
“It’s terrible,” said one man, who wished to remain anonymous.
“I've been a customer of theirs for 40 years, but I won't be when it closes. I'll go to the Credit Union.”
“It’s an inconvenience,” said pig farmer Jamie Youman, “because I'm only in town once a week at the most."
“As a long-term customer,” said midwife Deirdre Tarrant, “I'm very disappointed that the bank have decided to close.”
She will do her banking in Armidale, where she works.
“I feel sorry for those poor people that don't, as in the aged pensioners and everyone.”
Dentist John Cividin said he will bank at the Post Office.
“It's unfortunate, but small country towns suffer, as usual."
“What the team in Guyra would love to do is talk to customers about their options,” a spokesperson for the bank said.