Community & Business

12 March, 2022

Georgetown bank to close

GEORGETOWN is set to become a town without a bank after Bendigo Bank announced it will be closing its agency in May, leaving residents feeling abandoned and frustrated.

By Rhys Thomas

Photo | Dreamstime
Photo | Dreamstime

The Bendigo Bank agency located in the local post office, has been the town’s only physical bank presence for years and has serviced many of the local graziers and farmers in the area. 

The announcement to close the agency came after Community Bank Ravenshoe-Gulf Country conducted a review, citing that an increase in online banking was the main reason behind the closure of the agency. 

But the news has not gone down well with Etheridge Shire Council Mayor Barry Hughes who said people living rural and regional areas were fed up with this type of disregard for their economic sustainability. 

“In this case with Bendigo Bank withdrawing its services, no opportunity for discussion was offered to the council or the community to look at potential solutions – a blatant lack of common decency is at play right here in this instance,” he said. 

“Our residents will have to deal with bank staff (on the phone) that have little to no understanding or empathy of local conditions. 

“Allowing banks to close their doors have severe ramifications for the growth and sustainability of rural Queensland communities that contribute strongly to the wider economy of the State.” 

Cr Hughes said without a physical bank presence in Georgetown, it would act as a disincentive for new residents looking to move into the shire to take up business or employment opportunities. 

“We are your customers and with this decision, you are at risk of becoming this community’s bank of last choice. 

“I would like to remind the managing director (of the bank) and board members that Georgetown is part of Australia,” he said. 

Cr Hughes remined the bank that when it came onto the scene, it promised localised, community banking solutions after the big banks walked out. 

“Your words do not match your actions,” he said. 

A Bendigo and Adelaide Bank spokesperson attributed the closure to the change in customer behaviour, saying more people were opting to do their banking online or over the phone. 

“The agency is attached to Community Bank Ravenshoe-Gulf Country who, after a review, have decided that they no longer wish to continue to operate the agency and Bendigo and Adelaide Bank have agreed to this decision,” the spokesperson said. 

“Closing a branch or agency is never a decision we make lightly, however, as more and more customers choose to do their banking online or over the phone, our bank must respond and invest to support these changes in customer behaviour. 

“The decision to permanently close our Georgetown Agency in no way reflects on the service the Georgetown Agency team has provided and customers will now be able to use the Bank@Post facility for face-to-face transactions at the same location.” 

To help ease locals back into the old format of using the post office to bank, the board of Community Bank Ravenshoe-Gulf Country has decided to waive the fee for banking for the first three months, which would usually cost around $4 per transaction. 

The bank has reassured they will continue to support customers with lending enquires and provide sponsorships, support and grants to a range of community groups and events across the district, including the Georgetown Golf Day and Einasleigh Bush Races. 

The Bendigo Bank agency is set to close on 12 May 2022.


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