Benalla branch to shut

By Country News

Westpac bank branches in Benalla and Kangaroo Flat are set to close their doors, along with 20 other branches around the country.

The announcement, made last Thursday, was met with anger by the Financial Services Union and comes just days after the release of the royal commission’s report into the banking sector.

Westpac said the decision to close Benalla’s Bridge St branch and Kangaroo Flat’s High St branch followed a recent review.

‘‘We are continually reviewing our services to ensure they reflect how our customers are choosing to bank, now and in the future,’’ a Westpac spokesperson said.

‘‘In the past 12 months, less than two per cent of transactions were through our branch network, as an increasing number of customers enjoy the convenience of our online and mobile banking services.’’

Westpac said the decision to close a branch considered factors such as usage, location, proximity to other services and community needs.

‘‘Westpac Group customers can access in-branch support and fee-free ATMs across Australia, as well as banking services over the phone, through our website, or via our mobile banking app,’’ the spokesperson said.

FSU national secretary Julia Angrisano labelled the closures a ‘‘kick in the guts’’.

‘‘We know how hard the loss of a branch hits local residents, particularly the elderly, and Westpac has left them in the lurch,’’ she said.

‘‘These closures will also impact on local businesses. And we know in some parts of Australia, the 76 bank workers affected by these closures could find it difficult to get another job.’’

Ms Angrisano said the FSU would work with the bank and the unions members to maximise the numbers of staff redeployed to other jobs within Westpac.