A PUBLIC hearing into bank branch closures began today at the Port of Sale building.

Representatives from Westpac Group, the National Australia Bank (NAB), local government, traders’ associations and the banking union have been invited to participate.

The public is also being invited to have their say via an open session, scheduled for 2.30pm.

Westpac was listed as the first witness of the hearing, scheduled to begin at 10am.

The banking giant announced earlier this month that it would be closing its Sale branch in May; that closure has since been postponed indefinitely.

NAB is the next witness at 10.30am; it recently announced the permanent closure of its Maffra Agency, also due to close in May.

The inquiry will then hear from Latrobe City Council, East Gippsland Shire and Wellington Shire Council before breaking for lunch.

Upon resuming at 1pm, witnesses from the Sale Business & Tourism Association, Maffra Business & Tourism Association, Finance Sector Union and Yarram & District Traders Association will be called, prior to the open session.

The hearing is being conducted as part of the Senate inquiry into Bank Closures in Regional Australia, and will be held in the Wellington Room from 10am to 3pm.

For more information on the hearing, phone 02 6277 3511 or send an e-mail rrat.sen@aph.gov.au