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Tuesday, 2 December 1986
Page: 3212

(Question No. 644)

Senator Macklin asked the Minister representing the Treasurer, upon notice, on 5 November 1985:

(1) Is there a lack of banking facilities in Kenilworth, Queensland.

(2) Is the Commonwealth Bank which is represented by the Post Office, the only Agency in the town since the withdrawal from Kenilworth of trading bank facilities because of the closure of Westpac Bank.

(3) Has the Post Office Agent in Kenilworth approached the Commonwealth Bank with a request to upgrade the service to include trading bank services.

(4) Is the business community severely disadvantaged because now that Government social security and welfare payments are paid into bank accounts, recipients of these payments must go to other centres to receive their money and while there, they purchase the majority of their food needs.

(5) Would it not be possible for a computer terminal to be installed to handle all the necessary banking services required by the town.

(6) Is it likely, if Kenilworth continues without adequate banking facilities, that trading will decrease even more than it has in the past few months, resulting inevitably in the closure of more small businesses.

Senator Walsh —The Treasurer has provided the following answer to the honourable senator's question:

(1) As you will appreciate, I am not personally in a position to comment on the adequacy of banking facilities in Kenilworth, nor on the effectiveness of existing facilities for the local business community. The location of bank branches and agencies and the facilities provided therein are necessarily matters for determination by the individual banks on the basis of their own commercial judgment.

(2) The views of the Managing Director of the Commonwealth Banking Corporation have been sought in respect of those aspects of the honourable senator's questions which relate to the corporation. The Managing Director has advised that the Kenilworth Post Office acts as agent for the Commonwealth Savings Bank (CSB), providing banking facilities in relation to passbook savings accounts, including Savings Investment Accounts. The Post Office also accepts CSB housing loan repayments. The Managing Director has also advised that he understands that a local newsagency currently conducts some agency facilities for Westpac Banking Corporation, the only other bank represented in Kenilworth.

(3) A number of approaches (including one from the Post Office agent in Kenilworth) have been made to the Commonwealth Bank regarding extension of its banking facilities in Kenilworth. The Bank is considering the practicability of providing multiple-user access to its remote banking service, Telebank, at the Kenilworth Post Office. Multiple-user access would be a new service for Telebank which presently operates through Telecom's Viatel Service and enables Commonwealth Bank customers, who have a cheque account and/or Keycard Savings Account, to carry out a range of banking transactions from a special terminal.

(4) So far as Government social security and welfare payments are concerned, the Managing Director of the Corporation has advised that in respect of Commonwealth Bank customers, such payments can be directed to new or existing CSB passbook accounts (including Savings Investment Accounts) and withdrawals can then be made at the Kenilworth Post Office without the need to go to other centres.

(5) As noted in (3), the practicability of providing multi-user access to banking services through Telebank is being considered by the Commonwealth Bank. In the meantime, individual residents of Kenilworth and the surrounding countryside can, if they so wish, apply to have a Telebank terminal in their homes or offices. In addition, a trial of electronic funds transfer terminals, providing access to personal cheque and savings accounts, is currently being conducted within the CSB's agencies located in Post Offices in the Gold Coast region of Queensland. This trial is a joint project between the CSB and Australian Post which is due to be concluded during 1986, and extension of the facility to other points will be considered when the trial is completed and the results have been assessed. The range of services provided, either through Telebank or other electronic fund transfer systems, would be a matter for decision by the Bank, taking into account customers' needs.

(6) I am not in a position to comment on whether trading has decreased in Kenilworth or on whether it would continue to do so as a consequence of the banking facilities available in the area.