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Connexus : Issue 43
stable; and that NAB runs UBank. "That was probably the one major thing that the general public were amazed at," he says. "Very few people knew of all those linkages." The common view from locals on the day was that "we're being hoodwinked". Degotardi says there is no doubt the multi- branding issue resonated with attendees, adding that "most people don't like being duped". On a positive note, he believes regional people understand the benefts to the community of a robust customer-owned banking sector. "Even if they weren't using our institutions, what really str uck me was how positively those institutions were viewed in any event." Another key point reinforced by the tour is that most members of the public still think switching fnancial institutions requires great time and effort, despite government-led reforms in recent years. "Most people don't like their banks or how they are being treated, but they are r usted on and are reluctant to make that shift," says Matthew Bow, general manager of Macquarie Credit Union, in Dubbo. About 130 people signed the Balance Banking petition in Dubbo, but Bow says it is apparent that the account switching changes are "not cutting through". "A lot more work needs to be done to convince people that it's not hard to switch and that we do most of the work for them." Political push Degotardi is confdent the broader Balance Banking campaign, in tandem with the more targeted bus tour, can help mobilise support for customer-owned banks as a more powerful player in the fnancial sector. "There are lots of people out there who are willing to say 'Yes, we want to support our local institutions.' "What we have to do is make sure we are connecting with them to get their message to Canberra." Degotardi believes the bus promotion will embolden some local politicians to push the customer-owned model harder than they have done in the past. He notes that the Coalition has promised to hold a banking inquiry if it wins the federal election, and local Labor MPs have been supportive too. Bow says the time is right for a review of the banking system. “Coming up to an election, it’s defnitely the time to get some clarity from the politicians, but unfortunately the politicians' concentration span is often on the next media cycle. "But hopefully the Balance Banking campaign can energise the public to demand more from their politicians and enable us to make some more noise." Local and national As the bus revs up for tours of other states, the Customer Owned Banking Association believes it is critical to act on the goodwill coming through the community gatherings and maintain momentum for the customer-owned banking model. The sector needs just a small proportion of its 4.5 million members to be energised to deliver a strong message to Canber ra and local MPs, says Degotardi. "All of a sudden we're talking about half a million or a million people sending a common message. About 130 people signed the Balance Banking petition in Dubbo, but Bow says it is apparent that the account switching changes are "not cutting through". CoverStory 26 Connexus