NSW Opposition Leader Luke Foley is calling on the major banks to halt their closures of branches in regional towns while the state is in the throes of the worst drought in a generation.

Mr Foley has written to Prime Minister Scott Morrison today asking him to support a moratorium on branch closures, as well as demand greater compliance from the banks with their own code of practice.

Mr Foley travelled to Dungog in the Hunter Valley today to highlight the plight of that particular community which is set to lose its local branch of the National Australia Bank at the end of the month. The Westpac in town has already closed.

Bank branches are important to local communities as they provide convenient access to essential financial services.

Mr Foley said that in a time of drought-induced stress these essential services are a vital part of a community; their closure would only serve to undermine that community’s confidence in its economic future.

A campaign by the Finance Services Union, the union that represents bank workers, has been gathering steam and is attracting support across the community.

Were Prime Minister Morrison to lend his support to the campaign the banks could be forced to act, especially if, as a condition of their licence, they are required to comply with their own code on the issue of branch closures.  

Quotes attributable to NSW Opposition Leader Luke Foley

“The state is dealing with the damage of a severe drought and farms, families, businesses and individuals are all feeling its impact.

“Now is the time to be supporting our regional and rural communities not abandoning them.

“Closing a bank could sound the death knell of some rural communities and that is why there must be a moratorium on any further branch closures.

“I have acknowledged and welcomed the drought assistance packages offered by the Commonwealth and State Governments but we can do more and that is why I have written to the Prime Minister to seek his support for a moratorium on bank branch closures.”