In a statement to the media on 31 May, as round three of the hearings into SME lending draw to a close, the commission announced its next topic of investigation will be “experiences with financial services entities in remote and regional communities”.
And in a move away from what has been its base in Melbourne’s Commonwealth Law Courts, the commission will undertake those hearings in two new locations: the first week, from Monday, 26 June, will be held at Brisbane Magistrates Court in Brisbane.
From there, it will move to the Supreme Court of the Northern Territory in Darwin for the second week from Monday, 2 July.
Additional details, including witnesses and more detail on the focus of this, will be revealed sometime in June.
Given the nature of the topic, bank branch closures are likely to form part of the next round of interrogations. But we could hear more on lending, specifically to farmers and financial hardship provisions for farmers across all levels of financial services.
To date, insurance has been a notable absentee from the commission’s proceedings, so this too could rear its head in the next round.