ANZ boss asked to reverse branch closures

ANZ boss asked to reverse branch closures

Federal Member for Mayo Rebekha Sharkie has gone straight to the boss of the ANZ to ask him to overturn the decision to close the bank branches in Lobethal and Goolwa.

PHOTO: Lobethal business Garry Hughes organised a petition calling on the ANZ to reverse its decision to close the local branch. He collected more than 1800 signatures.

Rebekha has sent a personal email to the ANZ's Chief Executive, Shane Elliott, after senior bank officials rejected a proposal to postpone closing the Lobethal branch for 12 months so the local community could increase the number of face-face transactions at the site.

"We put the proposal to the ANZ regional managers late last month during a meeting in my office and local businessman Garry Hughes even offered to buy the bank building in Lobethal and lease it back to the ANZ to make a 12-month trial a reality. The bank rejected the idea within a few days," Rebekha said.

"Garry is the managing director of GE Hughes Construction, one of the biggest employers in the district, and even with his offer and his pledge to take his business elsewhere, the ANZ was not interested in working with the community.

"They weren't even interested in the petition instigated by Garry and signed by more than 1800 local residents calling on the bank to keep the branch open.

"Although I do note from the bank's response that they had no qualms about mining the petition for information about the banking habits of those who signed." 

Rebekha tabled the petition in Federal Parliament late last week where she spoke about the closures,  calling on the ANZ to lift its game when it came to corporate social responsibility.

"Last year ANZ's Chief Executive, Shane Elliott, told the media that the role of banks in the community extends beyond financial services and that banks must be responsible for the social and environmental impacts their operations have on society," Rebekha said.

"It's about time the ANZ lived up to community expectations."

In addition to emailing Mr Elliott, Rebekha has also written to the chief executive officers of the Beyond Bank Australia and the Bendigo and Adelaide Bank to ask them to consider setting up branches in the two towns.

"These are companies that have built their corporate image on community-customer connections so I hope they will consider investing in face-to-face banking in these towns," Rebekha said.

"ANZ's reasoning for closing the branches is that internet banking and mobile apps have drastically altered customer traffic in Lobethal and Goolwa.

"Mayo is the oldest electorate in South Australia and the sixth oldest in the nation.

"Online banking is not usually embraced by a significant number of our senior citizens. 

"More than half the population of Goolwa is aged 65 years or older. The ANZ branch at Lobethal is across the street from one of the largest retirement villages in the Adelaide Hills.

"Our community considers banks to be anchor-facilities in regional areas.

"When they close it causes negative, long-term effects to the social and economic fabric of a community."