THE ANZ bank will close its Ingham branch in North Queensland in a move that has been slammed by community leaders.
Hinchinbrook Shire Council Mayor Raymon Jayo urged the region’s ANZ customers to close their accounts with the bank and instead move their money to the financial institutions that have showed loyalty to the town.
“I have instructed our CEO to close council’s ANZ account and urge everyone to show loyalty to those banks that have showed loyalty to the people of Ingham,” Cr Jayo said.
He said four staff members would lose their jobs when the branch closes on April 24, which was a big hit for the community.
“It is bitterly disappointing and another kick in the guts for our small communities. That was four jobs in our community, and that’s a lot of jobs.”
Cr Jayo said while he understood the viability of such institutions relied on people coming through the doors, the banks and government had a responsibility to ensure smaller communities could remain viable in a digital age.
“Internet shopping and internet banking is taking away our jobs,” he said.
“At the end of the day, the biggest shop we now have in Ingham is the back of an Australia Post delivery vehicle.
“Thirty years ago my wife worked for the Commonwealth Bank in Ingham and there was 30 people working there.
“We created employment, now we’re all going digital, and they keep assuring us that this digital stuff is going to create more jobs, but not in Ingham. This is proof right there. The proof is in the pudding, we’re losing jobs.
“We have been doing our utmost to create employment, we’re having a hard time life everyone else in Australia doing it tough to rebuild and this just rips the guts out of all the hard work.
Cr Jayo said NAB, Commonwealth Bank, Westpac and Bendigo still had a presence in town and urged customers to support those branches.
”We have the oldest demographic in the state and a lot of our people don’t accept, trust or understand internet banking. We’ve still got people walking around with old passbooks.
“I do blame the government, where is this technology going to take us as far as jobs are concerned in rural Australia? It will take us nowhere, robots aren’t going to feed us.”
It comes after the ANZ also closed their Hughenden branch on October 18 last year.
Hinchinbrook MP Nick Dametto said banks had a responsibility to provide a service to small country areas, not just more profitable city centres.
“This is just a further erosion of services in the country which is occurring right across regional Queensland,” Mr Dametto said.
“Over the past six months we have seen similar closures by major banks in Julia Creek and Hughenden.
“Often rural communities are ageing communities and they want to be able to walk into a bank.
“Many people are not interested in, or savvy enough to use internet banking and frankly many just don’t trust on line banking.”
Mr Dametto said closures often resulted in families having to move away from the area to find work which meant less money in the town and less employment opportunities.
“It may not mean a lot to big cities but to a centre the size of Ingham it effects the people who work in the bank, their families and their ability to remain in the community,’’ Mr Dametto said.
An ANZ spokeswoman confirmed the branch would close on April 24, saying they had seen a 30 per cent drop in foot traffic in the last four years.
”Currently only 14 per cent of our customers use the branch with 66 per cent of them preferring online options such as internet or mobile banking,” she said.
“This has been a difficult decision and we apologise for the inconvenience it may cause.
“We are consulting the branch staff members who currently work at Ingham and supporting them through this change while making every effort to find them redeployment opportunities with ANZ.”
The spokeswoman said current customers would have their accounts transferred to Sturt St, Townsville branch.
She said the ATM would remain at its current location at Lannercost St, and customers would be provided with alternative banking options, such as online and mobile banking, while Agri bankers, business bankers and mobile lenders would continue to support customers in the area.