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Regions on the rise

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Right now, across Australia, there is a re-thinking of the structure of the economy towards the increased development and revitalisations of the regions.

Recently, at the AFR’s National Infrastructure Summit, Urban Infrastructure Minister Alan Tudge highlighted that “the plunge in migration due to COVID-19 will halt the "insatiable growth" of big cities like Sydney and Melbourne, forcing a major rethink of Australia's infrastructure planning towards the regions”.

The latest federal government budget echoing this sentiment, has allocated “more investment, jobs and a secure future for Australia’s regional communities”, with Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack saying this year’s Budget would provide support for regional Australia as it continues to drive our nation’s economic recovery from the pandemic.

But this focus on revitalising the regions is nothing new to the customer owned banking sector in Australia.

COBA members have historically been a vital part of this regional fabric, promoting employment and broader growth while simultaneously achieving award winning rates of customer satisfaction.

Of COBA’s 63 member institutions,42 have headquarters that are outside Sydney and Melbourne with head offices spanning the regions and crossing state borders from Parkes, Orange, Tamworth, Yarrawonga and Toowoomba.

Our members have been pillars of their local communities helping to bridge the divide between urban and rural Australia.

Consider these examples: headquartered in Wollongong, Horizon Bank poured extensive resources into supporting their communities as bushfires ravaged the South Coast during the unprecedented summer of 2019. In a similar vein, not only has Regional Australia Bank helped people in NSW for over fifty years, the Armidale-headquartered institution is leading the banking sector in innovation. With the commencement of open banking earlier in the year, Regional Australia Bank was the only ADI to be accredited as a data recipient.

As the coronavirus sparks an exit of city dwellers and remote working becomes a pattern of everyday life, customer owned banks stand poised to serve the regions of Australia and be a part of their growing economic contribution to this nation.

By Esther Rajadurai, Senior Policy Analyst, COBA

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