Legislative Council: Wednesday, February 08, 2023


Regional Bank Closures

The Hon. R.A. SIMMS (15:11): I seek leave to make a brief explanation before addressing a question without notice to the Minister for Regional Development on the topic of bank closures in the region.

Leave granted.

The Hon. R.A. SIMMS: Last week, The Advertiser reported that Westpac is closing their bank branch in Coober Pedy later this month, leaving the town without any bank. Over the last seven years, at least 50 regional bank branches have closed in South Australia. At least 22 towns have been left without a bank branch at all, including places such as Angaston, Burra, Kapunda, Mannum, Roxby Downs, Strathalbyn, Tailem Bend and Willunga.

Last week, the ATM at Coober Pedy ran out of cash. As a result, residents could only withdraw cash from the post office during business hours or by driving 500 kilometres to Port Augusta. My question to the Minister for Regional Development is: what action has the minister taken to date to ensure that banks in regional towns and communities stay open?

The Hon. C.M. SCRIVEN (Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development, Minister for Forest Industries) (15:12): I thank the honourable member for his question. Certainly, the decisions taken by banks, which don't appear anymore to have a sense of social responsibility, are very disappointing. The member refers to the number of banks that have closed across regional areas, and I know in terms of the closure at Coober Pedy, I think both the member for Giles and the member for Stuart have had conversations with me about this.

It is most unfortunate when these large corporations don't take any responsibility for providing services to regional communities. It is something that is regrettable, unfortunately part of the society within which we operate, which has private companies making these decisions. It means that it is not something that we have a direct opportunity to impact, but I am certainly willing to talk with my colleagues in the other place who have a more direct responsibility in terms of business and so on and come back if there is any additional information that I can provide.