ANZ to close branches as communities call for more consultation

Communities have accused the bank of putting profits over people. Source: PEXELS

Banking giant ANZ has come under fire from local communities, following its announcement last week that it will close 12 branches throughout regional Queensland, Western Australia and Victoria.

ANZ branches in the following areas are set to be closed imminently:

  • Queensland: Stanthorpe, Gladstone Central (Kin Kora), Highfields, Ingham, Moura, Oakey, Chinchilla
  • Western Australia: Moora, Gnowangerup
  • Victoria: Rochester, Abbotsford, Heidelberg

According to a report by The Chronicle, Maranoa MP and former banker David Littleproud, whose electorate covers Chinchilla, accused ANZ of not consulting with the community about the closures.

“They’re just looking at profits over people,” Littleproud said. “The reality is there is an opportunity to have an open and honest conversation about it, and then the community can decide if it needs to stay open.

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“In a lot of these communities, such as in Jandowae or Chinchilla, you’re removing this major service. The banks need to be honest in regional communities. Don’t just close it – tell them and have the conversation.” 

ANZ informed its Highfields’ branch customers that more of the bank’s customers were choosing to use digital or mobile banking options and that, as a result of fewer customers using the Highfields branch, it will close permanently on Wednesday, 7 March 2018. Oakey customers received a similar notification, according to The Chronicle.

Stanthorpe Chamber of Commerce president Ian Henderson, was quoted in a Warwick Daily News article, saying it was interesting that branches were closing in a town with an ageing population.

“It is the older generations in our community who have always dealt face to face across the counter… the majority of our population are ones who are most likely to want to go into a branch,” Henderson said.

Henderson also stated that it was the bank’s loss and not a loss for the town of Stanthorpe, urging locals to simply switch banks.

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“I see it as ANZ’s problem if they can’t differential themselves in the market here – it’s the bank’s failure not Stanthorpe’s,” he said.

“The positive side here is there is no shortage of banking opportunities in town. If you really want to support local business, move across to another bank, they’re all good.”

The Finance Sector Union of Australia (FSU) weighed in on the debate, noting its concern about ANZ “aggressively closing branches”, and accusing the bank of abandoning rural communities in Australia.

“Banking is an essential service, especially in regional communities and customers rely on their bank having a branch that they can access,” said Julia Angrisano, Finance Sector Union of Australia National Secretary.

“Instead of closing branches the Finance Sector Union is calling on the ANZ to properly consult with its workers and communities about the future of its branch network before taking decisions to abandon branches,” Angrisano said.

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“Banks have an obligation to the communities that support them. The sheer number of closures says one thing about the ANZ: they care more about profits than people.”

When contacted for comment, an ANZ spokesperson said, “We regularly review our banking services to make sure we are providing our customers with the right services where they need them.”

“We understand that some customers prefer to do their banking face to face, so they can use one of 3,500 [email protected] facilities across Australia.”

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