'I'm onto it': Can Kevin Hogan save Alstonville's last bank?
THE Alstonville community is reeling after its last bank announced it will shut its doors, but Page MP Kevin Hogan has answered their cries for help.
The village's Commonwealth Bank plans to permanently close on December 6.
When Mr Hogan heard the news, he made a few "calls" then headed straight to Alstonville to talk to business owners and sign one of the petitions created to try to save the bank.
"I'm really disappointed at this news," he said.
"A lot of people and business owners are upset about this, mums and dads, nans and pops and rightly so.
"There were three financial institutions in Alstonville not that long ago.
"When the others shut, CBA said they were here to stay, so I'm exceptionally disappointed in their decision."
With its sizeable industrial estate, healthy retail sector and elderly population who don't necessarily bank online, Mr Hogan echoed the community's sentiments, that Alstonville definitely needs a bank.
But he said the wheels were already in motion to ensure Alstonville does not remain without a bank for long.
"I have already rung two institutions - one of them being Bendigo Bank, who often have a model where they will move in when a major moves out, I've put a call into the CEO there to see if they can look at the numbers and see if it will work," he said.
"I've spoken to another organisation that said they'd have a look at it as well - but they want to remain nameless for now.
"I'm onto it... we will be doing everything I can to try and get another bank to come and fill this space.
"If another institution opens its doors in Alstonville I'll be there on day one to open an account and bringing people with me."
Ballina MP Tamara Smith said it would be a real loss to the Alstonville community to see the last walk-in bank shut its doors.
"Constituents, particularly older members of our community are always telling me that they want to engage with human beings when they conduct their business not machines," she said.
"My mother's first job was with the Commonwealth Bank and back in the 60s through to the 90s a local branch manager and their team were part of the local community and were trusted and respected advisors. An ATM, quite frankly, is not the same."
"I have reached out to the CBA regional manager to see what I can do to encourage the bank to reconsider their decision."
" Alstonville and Wollongbar are growing communities in terms of population growth so it's hard to understand this decision."
She commended the locals who started a petition to save the branch office and the important face to face service the bank provides to their community.
State Member for Lismore Janelle Saffin said that while Alstonville sits in the Electorate of Ballina, she sure did not support the Commonwealth Bank abandoning any community.
"A town without a bank is not right," Ms Saffin said.
"It demonstrates yet again the bank's lack of corporate social responsibility."