"St Marys residents petition to save the Commonwealth Bank" - Examiner

In a show of eagerness to stop the decision, residents were lining up to voice their displeasure before Mr Mitchell's staff had completed setting up the petition stall.

Recently, Commonwealth Bank announced their decision to close the local branch citing lease reasons and a reduction in transactions. It continues a broader theme for Tasmania, which has endured 18 bank branch closures since 2018.

Mr Mitchell said from listening to residents and the resident turnout, there was clearly a demand for a dedicated banking service in regional areas.

"There is outrage and anger here at Commonwealth Bank's decision to close St Marys branch, they are absolutely disgusted with the decision," he said.

"People know that banks are making good money and this is a big town, with businesses and older people who rely on the bank and they are just outraged."

At the time of writing, the petition had attracted over 350 signatures both online and at the petition stall.

Residents can use Australia Post's email/Bank)(Post service, which includes Commonwealth Bank and NAB but some financial institutions may charge users fees for using this service and ANZ is not part of this service.

Local business owner Helen McIlroy warned the closure of the CBA branch would have an impact on the elderly and local businesses.

"It would mean elderly people don't have that place to go to get their cash out and do their banking, a lot of elderly people don't use the internet or understand that way of living," she said.

"The business owners need somewhere to deposit their cash, it is dangerous for business owners to drive 35 minutes to bank cash at St Helens on a daily basis or every second day.

"It is not a viable option for a lot of us, we're small businesses ... it is a big security risk to hold that cash in your home or at your shop."

Break O'Day resident Bart Moss echoed the concern for local businesses and how the closure would impact their trade.

"The town relies on it, not only the people but all the businesses, they're going to have to go elsewhere so the town will lose business," he said.

Break O'Day Council has indicated they will be open to discussion with other banks, like Bendigo Bank, to see if they could offer a physical presence for residents.

Mr Mitchell said he hoped the petition would generate a broader discussion about the need to properly resource regional towns.

"Maybe, just maybe, we can show them the level of community support [and they] will change their mind or maybe it will show other providers that there is a strong feeling for a bank here," he said.

"We've had this thing for too long that everything is about the bottom line and I am not saying you should run at a loss but we need to have a conversation on the importance of rebuilding our local communities.

"The costs of losing our regional communities, and having them wither and die, is much more than if we support them with better services."

As seen in The Examiner - 19 May 2021 (https://www.examiner.com.au/story/7260226/outrage-and-anger-from-residents-as-petition-tries-to-save-bank-branch/)