Morawa loses face-to-face banking after Bankwest pulls the plug on local branch citing staffing problems

Michael RobertsMidwest Times
Morawa’s only bank is closing in February.
Camera IconMorawa’s only bank is closing in February. Credit: Stephen Scourfield/The West Australian

Another regional town will lose its only bank after Bankwest confirmed it would close its branch in Morawa early next year.

Citing staff shortages, Bankwest said the Morawa branch would permanently shut its doors on February 24.

Bankwest personal banking general manager Scott Spittles said it had struggled to legally staff the branch, with a minimum of two workers required on the site.

“The decision to close branches is never taken lightly, but low customer visits and staffing challenges have made it difficult to continue to operate our Morawa branch,” he said.

“Morawa’s actual operating days and times have been far less than the advertised hours because every time a colleague is unwell or on leave we can’t source a replacement, we can’t legally open.”

Mr Spittles said Bankwest would “seek to retain” affected employees by redeploying them within the organisation.

Morawa’s residents will now have to go to Carnamah, Dongara or Geraldton for face-to-face banking.

Morawa Shire President Karen Chappel.
Camera IconMorawa Shire President Karen Chappel. Credit: Midwest Times

Shire President Karen Chappel said it was a blow for local businesses and community groups.

“The Shire is disappointed the bank hasn’t communicated more regularly with us on the closure and talked about other options,” she said.

“It leaves us with an empty facility on our main street. You never want your local bank to close.

“We all know we are moving towards a cashless society, but it has consequences.”

The news comes after ANZ, Commonwealth Bank and NAB announced branch closures in the South West.

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Opposition Leader Mia Davies slammed the decision, accusing the big banks of turning their backs on regional areas.

“Banks need to have a local presence in regional communities to understand the difficulties being faced, and to provide financial solutions and assistance for those who can’t travel or access online banking,” she said.

The Federal Government has started taking submissions on a parliamentary inquiry that will examine the impact of branch closures on regional communities.

Australians impacted by a bank closing in their town are being encouraged to share their story.

The consultation process is open for submissions until December 18.

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