Call for more banks in the bush
BANKS should be forced to have a "bricks and mortar" presence in small North Queensland towns as branch closures risk crippling regional communities, says the LNP.
Burdekin MP and LNP North Queensland spokesman Dale Last has called on the Banking Royal Commission to require banks to ensure regional Queenslanders have access to branches, not just online services.
"The Royal Commission must take the interests of regional Queenslanders on board when preparing recommendations or it won't be just bank branches closing, it could be whole towns," he said.
"For years the banks have put profits ahead of people, especially in regional areas, and now is the time for that to stop."
Mr Last said North Queensland communities such as Clermont and Middlemount were without a bank, which was "not fair".
"The only way to access banking services is at the post office in some communities," he said.
"Post offices were never built to be banks and many people have security concerns handling large transactions."
Mr Last said it was common for people to travel hundreds of kilometres to access banking services in some areas of his electorate.
"I want to see the banks improve services in smaller and regional towns, who have limited or no services right now.
"If the banks won't do it voluntarily, the Commission should look at forcing them to do it with regulation."
Mr Last said the big banks had recently been accused of "harsh and sometimes heartless treatment" of primary producers and moving closer to customers could address some of these concerns.
"If the banks had staff in some of these areas they would know how drought and issues like that affect people and they have the chance to work with customers before things get out of hand," he said.