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Key protections for the WA community were included into the Bankwest Act by the WA Government to make sure the smaller bank’s services to Western Australia’s local communities were maintained after BankWest was sold off to the larger East Coast based Commonwealth Bank (CBA) in the post-GFC environment.

But these protections expire in September this year and the Finance Sector Union of Australia (FSU) has asked the CBA to make an ongoing commitment to maintain its current presence in WA for a further five years.

However, the Commonwealth Bank has refused.

“We think the CBA has an obligation to the people of Western Australia not to reduce its branch network or its financial support for the community across the state, or the key banking functions currently providing much needed jobs in WA.” said FSU National Secretary Julia Angrisano.

“We have asked the CBA to assure the public that the local businesses and local communities that currently have a local BankWest Branch will keep their branches.  We also want a commitment that Bankwest continues to contribution to the community through its guaranteed sponsorship levels that were locked into law at the time of the takeover,” she said.

“However the CBA has refused to make those commitments, and it won’t agree to maintain its chief information officer, chief financial officer, chief risk officer and head of human resources in Perth.”

Ms Angrisano said the CBA’s failure to agree to these basic commitments puts the future of Bankwest as a business substantially operated in WA, for the people of WA, at risk.

“Once sections of the Bankwest Act expire, the CBA will be in a position to call the shots on what happens at Bankwest in a big way.”

The FSU is concerned that the CBA could reduce the numbers of branches and make a large number of staff redundant. There are concerns customers will be forced to move to other branches, or even change banks because there was no longer a Bankwest branch near them.

“In the last six months of 2016 26 bank branches have been shut down by other banks in WA but not one Bankwest branch has been lost because of the Bankwest Act,” Ms Agrisano said.

“We need politicians from both sides of the political divide to make a commitment to amend the Bankwest Act to make sure Western Australians are protected from the Sydney based Commonwealth Bank that is more concerned about maximising profit for shareholders than delivering customer service to the WA public.”

Ms Angrisano said West Australian MPs had acted to protect the WA public from allowing the Commonwealth to strip away Bankwest jobs and services when the economy was in danger because of the GFC and the same logic applies today with the WA economy struggling, unemployment rising and other banks already closing branches.  With the local economy in such precarious shape, only the elected representatives of the WA parliament can ensure Bankwest’s local presence is protected.

“CBA is one of the most highly centralised banks with the vast bulk of the business run out of Sydney and the Union has no doubt there will be major changes at Bankwest unless the WA Parliament steps in once again,” Ms Angrisano said.


Julia Angrisano is available for interview.

Media contact John Hill 0412197079

Contact Details
John Hill
Mob: 0412197079

Authorised By: Julia Angrisano, National Secretary
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