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Westpac makes withdrawal

By Geoff Vause

[email protected]

Westpac is closing its Carterton branch, and mayor John Booth wants the banking giant to put its money where its mouth is.

“I’m gutted,” Mr Booth said.

“It’s another rung kicked off the ladder for rural towns.

“This affects business people who do their banking there, it affects farmers, it affects everyone and worst of all for me it affects the elderly, many of whom are not comfortable with internet banking.”

“They like the physical presence of a bank in their town. We tried to halt this at the highest level.”

He said given the profits taken by banks it may be time for them to reassess some of their attitudes and how to best contribute to rural economies.

Mr Booth said ANZ may also be reviewing banks at a number of rural centres.

More information was expected on that next month.

“It’s a frightening time with banks doing this sort of thing.”

He said Westpac was considering putting a smart ATM at Carterton which would allow people to do banking, and a secure iPad which would allow online banking as well.

Mr Booth said the bank was meeting with him in a few weeks to discuss this idea.

“That’s fine, but I’d like then to commit to a couple of workshops here at Carterton for the elderly in particular to help them come to grips with the technology.

“I think our elderly folk would enjoy getting together at the events centre to learn how to do that.

“Westpac banked a billion dollars in profits in the last financial year. Let them put their money where their mouth is and do something for our people here.”

Westpac has confirmed it is closing 19 of its branches across New Zealand in early November.

Around 70 staff would be affected, with redundancy talks starting today.

Five staff are affected at Carterton.

Emily Ireland
Emily Ireland
Emily Ireland is Wairarapa’s Local Democracy Reporter, a Public Interest Journalism role funded through NZ On Air. Emily has worked at the Wairarapa Times-Age for seven years and has a keen interest in council decision-making and transparency.

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