"Towns stung by bank cuts" - The Mercury

NINE Tasmanian communities have learned their local Commonwealth Bank branch is among 90 Australia-wide which will have its opening hours slashed.

CBA has decided it will only open for three-and-a-half hours a day in Deloraine, Exeter, George Town, Huonville, Latrobe, Longford, Scottsdale and St Helens and then put staff on the national phone hotline.

Several of the impacted communities say the CBA’s decision to open between 9.30am and 1pm would give impetus to talks with banking competitors which have moved into other small towns.

Huon Valley Mayor Bec Enders believed the Bendigo Bank, which had opened branches in Huonville, Geeveston, Dover and Cygnet would now gain more customers after the CBD decision.

“We saw that happen when the ANZ closed its branch and I suspect this planned CBA cutback will drive more to the community bank,” Cr Enders said.

“However, it seems an unusual decision by the Commonwealth when this municipality is the fourth fastest growing in Tasmania.”

The George Town community – which only has a Commonwealth Bank branch left in the town – is also looking at its options to provide face-to-face banking services for its traders and older population.

George Town Mayor Greg Kieser was sad to hear the CBA had taken the decision to reduce its branch opening hours and he said it could prompt residents to look at alternative banking providers.

The cutback in opening hours follows the bank’s decision to close branches recently in Tasmanian towns including Penguin and St Marys.

Lyons MP Brian Mitchell said regional Tasmanians were being treated as second class citizens by the big banks.

“Customers at Deloraine, Longford and St Helens in my electorate have been told their branches will soon close at 1pm, providing just 3.5 hours of branch service a day,” he said.

“It is clear that regional customers don’t matter to these greedy banks.”

Mr Mitchell urged regional bank customers to switch to a bank that supported their local community.

In a statement, the CBA said its branches in 90 regional locations were “adapting to meet customers where they are now, stepping up to provide service to their local communities in the morning and early afternoon before supporting customers across Australia from 1:45pm.”

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