Banking shift criticised
SHADOW treasurer Louise Staley is asking the State Government to reverse a decision she says would remove government banking from small communities.
Ms Staley said the state government had decided all public organisations must bank with Westpac, based in Sydney, and many regional towns without a Westpac branch would have to send money out of their communities.
“Community banks are the bread and butter in rural and regional communities and without them, the necessary projects and programs that better the lives of locals simply would not get funded,” Ms Staley said.
Lloyd Gollop, chairman of Avoca and District Cooperative Limited community bank was concerned about losing money.
“We’re deeply saddened… and quite upset,” he said.
“We will not have the funds available, which we generate through the community bank, to redistribute back into the community that are supporting us.
“We’ve distributed over $1.1 million. It mightn’t be a lot of money to the government, but it’s a terrible lot to the community and we’re very passionate about it.”
In response, Western Victoria upper house MP and government minister, Jaala Pulford was dismissive of to Ms Staley’s claims.
“The Liberals are irrelevant to our positive plans for regional Victoria,” she said.
“Our focus is getting on with investing in the schools, hospitals, road and rail that regional Victorians need, that will support and grow our local economy.”