The Senate Inquiry into regional bank closures has forced senior executives of the ANZ Bank into embarrassing admissions which reveals there is never any community consultation before branches are closed.
In evidence before the Inquiry sitting today at Ingham in Queensland, ANZ senior executives admitted all decisions about branch closures were taken by managers in state capital cities and local communities had no opportunity to voice objections about the impact of branch closures.
Finance Sector Union local executive secretary Wendy Streets said the FSU had been warning for years that branch closures were about cutting costs and boosting profits and today’s evidence proves that’s the case.
“The community must be consulted when banks are considering closures,” Ms Streets said. “The ANZ clearly does not care about the impact branch closures have on customers or staff but it’s time they were made to properly consult prior to a bank branch being closed.”
The ANZ gave evidence that no Suncorp branches would close for three years if its proposed merger goes ahead but would give no guarantee that ANZ branches in the same town would not shut.
The further alarming revelation is that the ANZ has no concept that it operates under a ‘social license’ from the community with backing from the Federal Government.
“These banks are given the right to operate as financial institutions and make billions of dollars for their shareholders but in return the community expects banks to act in the public interest as well.”
“Telling a senate Inquiry that ANZ operates according to law and has no concept of a ‘social license’ is a huge problem for the bank.”
“No wonder Inquiry chair Senator Matt Canavan expressed his disgust with the ‘contempt’ banks are showing the community.”
Ms Streets said the FSU was proposing:
- Banks adhere to minimum service standards;
- A new mandatory code for branch closures including penalties for breaches;
- Community impact assessments ahead of closures;
- An appeal mechanism for customers;
- Right of review for communities if post closure arrangements don’t work;
- Community service obligations to keep branches open in rural Australia.
FSU official Wendy Streets is attending the Senate Inquiry in Ingham and is available for interview.
Media contact (Ingham) Julian Maleevsky 0430 781 993
Media contact (national) John Hill 0412 197 079