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Motion: Regional Bank Closures

8 March 2023

The Hon. R.A. SIMMS: I want to thank all my colleagues for their contributions: the Hon. Clare Scriven, the Hon. Nicola Centofanti, the Hon. Frank Pangallo, the Hon. Connie Bonaros and the Hon. Ms Game. I recognise that all parties and indeed all members in this place are supporting this motion and I really welcome that. It demonstrates the depth of concern that runs through the parliament and indeed through our community about the actions of these banks and it is one that crosses partisan divide. I think all members of this place are very concerned about the actions of the banking sector and the disregard they show for vulnerable members of our community.

It is worth noting some of the events that have unfolded over the last 24 hours. Yesterday, the Reserve Bank of Australia lifted the cash rate by 0.25 percentage points. This means the cash rate in Australia is now at an 11-year high of 3.6 per cent. This surpasses all the interest rate hikes that we saw since the 1990s, and this is the 10th successive interest rate hike in a row.

We know that the big banks are already passing these interest rates on to their customers. They are doing this despite the fact they are making enormous profits. The Commonwealth Bank made a profit of $5.1 billion for the second half of 2022. The NAB made a $2.15 billion profit for the fourth quarter of 2022. Westpac made a $5.3 billion full-year cash profit in November 2022, and ANZ made $6.5 billion in its full-year cash profits in October 2022.

They are making these huge profits, they are hiking up interest rates, and while they are making these huge profits and hiking up interest rates they are shutting down regional banks and they are dudding their customers in those communities of vital services. They are not recognising the role that these institutions should play in terms of offering a community service. I think it is outrageous. What we are seeing is corporate greed, and I welcome the clear message that this motion will send.

I indicate that we will be supporting the amendment put forward by the honourable Leader of the Opposition, and I appreciate her speaking to me about that. The honourable member made a fair point in that she noted the fact that the motion mentions one particular financial institution. That was because the decision regarding Coober Pedy was imminent at the time the motion was originally crafted, but as all members have identified, this is a matter that extends beyond one institution. It relates to all four of the big banks.

Hopefully, this will send a very clear message that, as members of parliament, we stand shoulder to shoulder with the community and we will fight for their interests against these big institutions and their corporate greed. With that, I commend the motion.