The big banks are failing regional Australia. They are nailing shut their branches across the regions. The town of St Marys in my electorate is losing its Commonwealth Bank branch and ATM in August, and it's the last bank in town. A petition I launched to try to save the branch has been to no avail. Locals lined up to sign it, but we always knew it was a long shot: big banks, after all, are not in the habit of listening to their customers. We need to rebuild our regions and not have them continually stripped out. Today residents of St Marys will meet at the sports centre to see if Bendigo Bank will come to town. I wish them every success.
At midnight tomorrow, the Tasman Highway will become a dead-end street at Paradise Gorge. I support the temporary closure; it's needed, to fix a cliff face before rocks fall onto the highway. What I don't support is east coast residents being given just 48 hours notice, despite the Gutwein government knowing for months about looming danger.
How long will the road stay closed, and why? We're told it could be 12 weeks or longer. The impact on east coast communities, especially the towns of Orford and Triabunna, will be severe. Alternative routes to the east coast are twice as long or twice as dangerous. A one-hour trip becomes a two-hour loop on sealed roads, or you can take your chances on loose gravel. Perhaps now the state government will finally heed my calls for the gravel Wielangta Road to be upgraded into a safe and viable east coast route.