Members of the West Tamar and George Town communities have expressed their concern due to the closure of Heritage Isle banking services in the townships of Beaconsfield and George Town.
The abrupt announcement during the Covid-19 crisis has come at the most inconvenient of times as different levels of Government encourage the public to minimise travel.
Both locations in the Tamar Valley community will no longer operate as Heritage Isle closes their Tasmanian branch network. Andrew Rasby Bank of Heritage Isle Chief Member Officer said, “Digitisation is a change we are seeing across the whole business, indeed the whole industry. BOHI’s branch network just isn’t resonating with the community in the way it used to. So, we have to make a change”.
Community leaders feel the impact of the closures will impact many residents.
Independent candidate for Rosevears Janie Finlay said “There are thousands of people affected in the extended area in one way or the other. Many who don’t travel out of the area. Older members of the community many who have been members since the beginning have been left completely high and dry. To hear stories of older members of the community, often our most vulnerable, out on the street at this time when we are all meant to be staying safe at home as been devastating. Kids have also been impacted with their school banking, piggy banks and learning about physical money and saving. Small business with their need for large cash withdrawals and deposits. It has however been so beautiful to see local community members reaching out to support people as they have been left to navigate their shift to online banking and using a card, many for the first time ever in their lifetime. Community supporting community.”
The independent candidate is leading a group of locals to look at alternative options for banking within the local community and already have begun talks and had positive conversations with other community banking providers.
Federal Member for Bass Bridget Archer said the actions of the bank, just two years after its merger, demonstrates a complete lack of care and concern for the community.
“They cannot simply rip these services away without answering to why and how this decision came about and why they have chosen to do it now” Mrs Archer said.
“In particular, to have made this decision in the middle of a pandemic and driving their elderly and most vulnerable customers out of their homes and into the public in order to wrap up their bank accounts is unconscionable. All week there have been queues of people gathering outside branches in Launceston and Beaconsfield with customers travelling to get there”
“My concerns and the of the many distressed community members that have contacted me has prompted me as a member of the Standing Committee on Economics to speak with Committee Chair Tim Wilson MP about the potential steps to have the bank answer questions to the Parliament, which I will be pursuing in the days ahead.
“The community deserves to have the bank answer as to why they professed to care so deeply about regional areas, only to turn around and close its branches in a time when our community is facing so many other challenges.
“Like so many others in our community, I feel let down that the promises made in the merger are not being honoured.
The banking network in Tasmania closed as of Friday the 8th of May 2020.