Businesses will shut shop with bank’s closure announcement
FOUR years ago, the ANZ branch in Toogoolawah closed its doors and told customers to travel 20 minutes to access the branch in neighbouring town, Kilcoy.
The disappointment has now doubled, after ANZ confirmed it would be closing the last remaining branch in the Somerset region in two weeks.
The branch at 36 William Street, Kilcoy, is set to close for good on at 4pm on February 27.
Kilcoy Chamber of Commerce President Bronwyn Davies said the closure meant the community would be left in the lurch and the economy could be crushed.
"The impact is going to be massive - we're potentially going to lose a lot of business through our stores as people are simply going to go to the Moreton Bay," Ms Davies said.
"Because people won't shop here if they have to go there to get cash or make a deposit."
Following the closure, the region would be without a bank.
"There are no other banks in the Somerset area except for the community bank at Lowood and Fernvale," Ms Davies said.
From Kilcoy or Toogoolawah, the drive is about an hour.
Bronwyn said a large chunk of the region's businesses relied on cash to operate.
Since ANZ's announcement, the chamber of commerce has received dozens of complaints.
"I've been talking to businesses all morning and we already have two who are thinking they're not going to renew their leases now," she said.
"They will not be able to use cash - they don't have the ability to drive and leave their businesses to go to another area and get cash out for their floats."
Those unable to make a trip out of town regularly would need to keep more cash on hand, in their homes or at their business.
"There's insurance and security issues all around that," Ms Davies said.
While she estimated 70 per cent of businesses used eftpos, Ms Davies said the internet connection was dodgy and could cut out when it rained.
"The internet just doesn't work and the eftpos won't work," she said.
"So they'll send customers up to the bank to get cash out."
Now, the only remaining ATM - which doesn't accept cash deposits - is across the highway where Ms Davies said parking was effectively "non-existent".
And that's if the ATM is left there.
"It's on Mary Street and I do not know if that ATM will close," Ms Davies said.
"It does not take deposits … and it's in a terrible location."
However, ANZ's general manager for southern Queensland, Nathalie Hesse, said customers who wanted to do face-to-face banking could do so at the Woodford branch.
"ANZ was unable to reach an agreement with the landlord of our Kilcoy branch for a new lease. As a result we were served a notice to vacate the premises and the branch will close on 27 February," she said.
"We'll be helping customers find alternative ways to do their banking, including online, telephone and mobile banking. We also have mobile lenders in the area for mortgage customers."
Ms Hesse said she understood the circumstances were disappointing for ANZ customers, and apologised for the inconvenience it would cause.
"All staff have been offered alternative employment options and an ANZ ATM will remain in Mary Street, Kilcoy," she said.
Somerset Regional Mayor Graeme Lehmann expressed his disappointment and said the council would lobby ANZ to keep an ATM that accepted deposits from business customers in the region.
"ANZ also dropped its agency arrangement with Australia Post in January 2019, so I don't know what they expect their local business customers to do now," Mr Lehmann said.
"The decision seems strange when you've got a business in Kilcoy with more than 1,200 employees and continued population and employment growth."