Going Out of Business sign on a storefront. Artwork created by the photographer.
Going Out of Business sign on a storefront. Artwork created by the photographer.

BAD BANKING: Somerset’s history of bank closures

IN ONE week, Kilcoy’s ANZ bank branch will close its doors, continuing a grim tradition of dwindling banking services in the region.

It will be the fifth bank the Somerset Region has lost in four years.

The unsavoury trend was discussed at last week’s Somerset Council meeting, with Councillor Sean Choat expressing concerns the region may one day lose all of its bank branches.

“You look at Lowood, you look at Toogoolawah, and you wonder which one’s next,” he said.

“How long before there’s no banks left in the Somerset?”

In June 2016, the ANZ branch in Toogoolawah closed its doors, with ANZ officials giving their assurance the Kilcoy Branch would not fail.

ANZ also withdrew its agency agreement with Australia Post in 2019, a service which allows Australia Post offices to function as miniature bank branches.

It means ANZ customers in the Somerset will no longer be able to conduct any kind of banking except via a handful of ATMs, most of which do not accept deposits.

READ MORE: Businesses will shut shop with bank’s closure announcement

READ MORE: Bank’s assurance withdrawn, leaving council stumped

READ MORE: Bad To Worse: New hurdles for Somerset shops

Lowood has been a hotspot for disappearing banks, first with the departure of Westpac in 2017, leaving behind only an ATM in Fernvale.

National Australia Bank’s Lowood branch closed in September 2018, though the ATM remains, and NAB still maintain a presence through their physical branch in Esk.

A Heritage outlet situated in the Lowood newsagent also closed during this period, with some residents being forced to change banks twice within year in the wake of the three closures.

Aside from the Esk NAB, the only other bank branch in the entire Somerset region is the Bendigo Bank in Lowood, which will be making a minor reduction to its opening hours from February 24.

Though residents are encouraged to make use of the agency arrangement with Australia Post, for those looking to visit a branch, the services available are extremely limited, with many being forced to travel to Gatton or Ipswich for their banking.

The increasingly-limited banking options are causing difficulties for businesses in the Somerset.