SUNCORP bank will close its Ingham branch in August in another blow for the small community.
The move comes just one month after the ANZ closed their branch in the town and has been slammed by community leaders.
Hinchinbrook Chamber of Commerce president Rachael Coco it was disappointing that Suncorp had made the decision straight off the back of ANZ leaving town.
“It’s a mixture of anger and fear in the community,” Mrs Coco said.
“The banks are putting profits ahead of people, but people are also scared. There’s that real fear of what the domino effect will be to come out of this, will it be another bank or a business?
“For two banks to make that decision in less than six months shows a lack of confidence in shire.”
Mrs Coco accused the banks of orchestrating a self-fullfilling prophercy when siting declining foot traffic as the reason for the closures.
“They are directing customers to the ATM and internet banking.
“As business owners, we require our banks to have a local presence and the seniors in our community like old fashioned customer service.”
Hinchinbrook MP Nick Dametto said the move was a blow to customers and bank staff.
“As if the closure of one major bank branch isn’t enough, now locals have to cop another following suit and abandoning them,” Mr Dametto said.
“Suncorp were quite happy to support local residents when industry and agriculture was doing well in our region and there was good money to be made from loans to customers.
“They’ve taken millions of dollars in profits from us during the good times but clearly, they’re not returning the favour when times get tough. Instead these banks would rather just pack up and walk away.
“It’s an absolute disgrace.”
Mr Dametto said he was concerned elderly residents in particular would struggle to adapt to online or phone banking.
“When it comes to dealing with your bank, nothing beats being able to talk face-to-face with a teller at your local branch, who can directly assist with any financial matter,” he said.
“Outsourcing such a service tells me that the hierarchy of Suncorp, just like ANZ, is showing no compassion for their local customers and are solely focused on the bottom line.”
Mr Dametto said his main concern was for Suncorp’s Ingham branch staff and their families as they processed the news.
“This is a difficult and trying time for staff and their families and I hope they can find suitable employment within the community. We have lost too many families due to company corporate downsizing in the regions.”
Mr Dametto said bank branch 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 affects the entire community,’’ he said.
“This is just a further erosion of services in country Queensland which is occurring right across the board.
“I believe the big banks have a responsibility to provide a service to small country areas.”
KAP Leader and Traeger MP Robbie Katter said a regional, government-backed bank should be established to fill the void in small communities.
“The KAP’s Rural and Regional Development Bank policy calls for a new lender that focusses on filling the regional lending gap created by private lenders,” Mr Katter said.