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Nelson M.P. Nick Smith welcomed the presentation of the petition opposing the closure of Stoke Kiwibank and Postshop to Parliament’s Economic Development, Science and Innovation Select Committee on Thursday.

“This closure of the Kiwibank and Postshop branch is unfair to Stoke and it’s thousands of retired residents who need access to face to face banking and postal services. This petition with 2054 signatures is holding the Coalition Government to account for allowing this withdrawal of services, particularly as it contradicts the explicit promise in the Coalition Agreement “to expand public services to the regions”. It’s galling that Shane Jones has been criticising privately owned banks on closing regional branches, but has been silent as a Minister of State owned Enterprises with responsibilities for NZ Post and Kiwibank as they shut up shop in Stoke and around the country.”

“I commend Greypower on its advocacy and presentation at the Select Committee. President Christine Tuffnell did Stoke and it’s older residents proud. The impact of the loss of these services adversely affects the wellbeing of thousands of Greypower members. The loss of banking services is particularly debilitating for older citizens and means for some losing their independence.”

“I have called on the Select Committee to have a hard look at how the Government manages the change to more digital services and how this impacts on the elderly. We have seen with the Census 2018 and the proposed closure of the Stoke Postbank and Kiwibank how older people are being isolated by agencies withdrawing face to face services.

The Government needs to better manage the transition to digital public services and ensure there are still accessible face to face options for our older population. We also need to do more in supporting programmes like SeniorNet to assist older people accessing digital technologies.”

“I will be continuing to work with the Select Committee and Greypower to try and halt this closure and services from Stoke. It is encouraging that we have delayed the original closure timeframe. My hope is that common sense prevails and the branch is retained. The Select Committee agreed to my motion requiring NZ Post and Kiwibank to report and appear before the Committee to respond to the concerns raised in the petition.

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