A Federal Government committee probing the spate of regional bank closures is holding a public forum in Carnamah next month after the Mid West town lost its only branch earlier this year. Westpac deemed its Carnamah branch too quiet and despite an outcry from the local community the branch was closed in February. Carnamah is the site of one of two WA hearings the parliamentary standing committee for rural and regional affairs and transport will be holding as public concern over bank closures escalates. They will be in Carnamah on August 15 and in Beverley the following day. In late March, Carnamah CEO Robert Paull made a submission to the committee, detailing the effects of the closure on the region. Mr Paull said the Shire’s request for a social impact assessment was ignored by the bank, and encouraged anyone able to attend the information session to share their stories and make regional voices heard. Carnamah Shire president Merle Isbister said their experience with Westpac and the decision to close the branch was disappointing. “Banks do not demonstrate any operational honesty in respect to listening to the needs and concerns of the communities in which they have been part of for many years,” she said. “Council and the community of Carnamah worked extremely hard to raise the awareness of bank closures in rural and regional Western Australia. We experienced first-hand the contempt to which banks treat their country customers.” The Carnamah branch was the only bank for 120km, and the lifeline for the neighbouring towns of Three Springs, Morawa and Perenjori, which were iced out of in-person banking when their branches closed in 2021. Carnamah’s submission explained the town’s ageing population was one of the main obstacles, and the transition to internet banking was not as straightforward for the five customers still using passbooks, as well as the distance to the nearest bank being no small journey. For Carnamah, it is a minimum 240km return trip to Moora, or 260km to Dongara where there still are bank branches. If an individual does not have a vehicle, it is a two-day trip using public transport to be able to access these banking facilities. The solution provided by the corporate giant, was the Bank@Post method, which does not have disabled access to the facility. “Had Westpac done a social impact assessment, they would have realised the effect the closure we have on the community,” Mr Paull said.