Westpac has severed ties with Moree, closing its local branch after almost 150 years in business.
The banking giant announced the controversial closure late last year, delivering another blow to the community after a difficult decade battling drought and flooding in the region, and now loss of business.
“To the banks we are just a number, and they are more worried about profits for their shareholders. And that is what big business does,” said local producer Col Pring.
Despite a Senate inquiry into the impact of regional bank closures, triggered by more than 92 bank branches across Australia being marked for closure since September, Moree couldn’t escape the hammer.
Federal Member for Parkes, Mark Coulton, has called for the price of loyalty.
“Moree is an economic powerhouse and while bank closures aren’t new, it’s extremely disappointing,” Mr Coulton said.
“I speak with families who had members who joined Westpac the week they opened in 1876.”
“These are long term customers who weren’t even notified.”
“There was no community consultation with the local council or with their customers.”
“We are outraged with the contempt this community has been treated.”
It is feared the elderly, Indigenous and vulnerable members of Moree’s community will suffer the most with lack of access and digital knowledge. With this battle lost, residents are more than happy to look at their options.
“We have been very fortunate for many years, we have one of every bank in our community, but reality is our community has shrunk, and a lot of people don’t realise the main reason our community has shrunk is that modern technology has changed everything,” Mr Pring said.
“It has changed farming, it has changed the way we shop and the way we bank.”
“We used to need hundreds of staff and now we don’t, so those people have moved onto other places.”
“To lose that one bank, in my opinion, it is sad for the people who have lost their jobs. But there are more options. If we had no banks in Moree we would have a problem, but we have other banks who want to be here,” he said.
As Westpac close their doors, there is a grim look on Moree’s banking future with ANZ forecast to follow suit and close in May this year.
“The visual image of two banks moving out of Moree in one year- the community and governments are working hard to create a stronger economy, and we have the Inland Rail and the Special Activation Precinct- these closures really underpin Moree’s future.” Said Federal Member for Parkes, Mark Coulton.
For the locals, its not right, but it’s just business.