GREENACRE COMMONWEALTH BANK CLOSURE
(Lakemba) [6.44 p.m.]: On behalf of my Greenacre constituents I raise concerns about the decision by the Commonwealth Bank of Australia to close its Greenacre branch on 2 October this year. I raised this issue in this House on 10 September after receiving notification from the CBA of its intention to close its Greenacre branch. I add that that notification was given to me as a fait accompli. I raised this issue at the time in the belief that the CBA - a bank borne out of the people and the substance of New South Wales and Australia as a whole - would review its decision to close its Greenacre branch. At the time I also mentioned that a delegation had been organised to meet with Mr Dick Perkins, the CBA’s New South Wales customer services general manager, in an effort to convince the CBA that its decision to close the branch at Greenacre was ill-founded and in need of drastic review.
On 14 September a delegation comprising the honourable member for Bankstown, Mr Doug Shedden; the honourable member for Auburn, Mr Peter Nagle; the Federal member for Blaxland, Mr Michael Hatton; Bankstown city Mayor at that time, Mr Kevin Hill; Bankstown’s Deputy Mayor, Ms Helen Westwood and I met with the CBA. At that meeting, which lasted for a long time, a strong case was put forward - which was supported by Bankstown council’s professional consultant on urban planning, Mr Martin Hill, to look at the future commercial viability and sustainability of the Greenacre and Yagoona shopping centres.
Yagoona, which was targeted for closure, has also had its branch of the CBA closed. Council was in the process of making significant improvements to the infrastructure of these shopping centres that would add to the viability and strength of the CBA branches at both shopping centres. The CBA’s general manager, Mr Dick Perkins, was non-committal about any reversal of the bank’s decisions to close its Greenacre and Yagoona branches, but he formally agreed to review the CBA’s closure decision in light of information conveyed to him by those in attendance at the special delegation.
It is disappointing to note that, despite the excellent arguments put forward at this meeting - I commend Bankstown council for its input in this matter - the CBA paid only lip-service to this most important issue. As a result the CBA, in ruthless contempt of the 22,000 people who reside in the Greenacre area and the hundreds of local businesses, closed the doors of its Greenacre branch on 2 October. Since its decision we have learned of other CBA closures in the Hurstville region and rumours abound about dozens of proposed bank closures in shopping centres throughout metropolitan Sydney and regional New South Wales. I note that many
closures have already occurred in regional New South Wales, starving those areas of a much-needed banking service. After raising this matter in the House I received a letter on 10 September from the Commonwealth Bank, signed by the head of group corporate relations, Ms Jill Lester, in which she states:
The Bank faces numerous economic and commercial realities which impact upon . . . banking services.
The only reality that the bank is facing these days is its pursuit of profit. It does not care about people. That is clear from the closure of its branches throughout New South Wales and Australia. The letter goes on to point out the detailed trend analysis of the bank in Greenacre, thus proving the need to close it down. Mr Perkins had no real demographic understanding of the area when we met with him. It was clear throughout our meeting with him that he was not aware of the needs of the people and the trends in the area. Despite those facts, the bank has closed and the CBA has not reviewed its decision. The letter also points out that people in Greenacre can use the postal agency, in the form of Australia Post.
What a ridiculous situation when the Howard coalition is closing down post offices willy-nilly throughout Australia! Greenacre post office is one of the post offices earmarked for future closure. I and the people of Greenacre will fight against that closure. Where do the people of Greenacre go now, in particular elderly constituents and the disabled? Are they supposed to take advantage of the services provided in Punchbowl, Lakemba, Bankstown and Roselands? They cannot physically get to those places. They have been left for dead by the CBA - a bank that no longer cares about the people who have patronised it for many years. I condemn the CBA for taking this decision. I will continue my fight. [Time expired.