SORELL Westpac customers should vote with their feet and wallets by taking their business to the local Bendigo Community Bank, Mayor Kerry Vincent said after news the big bank branch would close this month.
Mr Vincent, who is chairman of the community bank, said locals had the opportunity to shift their accounts to Bendigo, which supported the local community.
He said the majority of profits from the Bendigo Bank went back to the community, with many local projects only made possible because of the bank’s support for local programs.
The Sorell branch of Westpac will close on Friday, October 15. Federal Labor Lyons MP Brian Mitchell said the closure of Westpac at Sorell was a blow to the community.
Mr Mitchell said Westpac’s share price had risen more than 70 per cent in the past financial year.
“Once again, a big bank is showing complete disregard for its regional customers by shutting down a branch,” Mr Mitchell said.
“If a bank can’t figure out how to turn a profit in a fast-growing region like Sorell, what hope do other towns across regional Tasmania have of keeping their branches.
“This closure shows that the big banks are determined to close their regional branch networks, replacing them with online services and limited Australia Post banking.
“We need to rebuild our regions and stop this continual hollowing out of essential services.”
He suggested local customers show the same loyalty Westpac had and move their business to another local bank.
A Westpac spokesperson confirmed the closure.
“Westpac continues to follow our customers by investing in the ways they are choosing to bank,’’ the spokesperson said.
“This follows a significant shift toward digital and cashless banking, as well as declining foot traffic in bank branches.
“Westpac will continue to support Sorell customers with face-to-face service via our Bank@Post option with Australia Post, which is located 380 metres from the current branch.
“We also encourage any customer in Sorell who needs help with their banking to contact us so we can work with them one-on-one to ensure their needs are being met.’’
This December marks the 11th anniversary of the opening of the Community Bank Sorell and District.
Between 2015 and 2020 the bank donated $200,000 to the community including service groups, sports club and fire stations.
In last year’s annual report, the bank reported it had supported numerous local groups including: • Bream Creek Show Animal Nursery; • Student awards at local schools; • Carlton Park Surf Life Saving Club; • Dodges Ferry Football Club; • Primrose Sands Country Music Muster ; • Sports ground score boards; and • Local art shows