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Bank access concerns build

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Sheryl Lowe, Naracoorte Community News

Banking is challenging in Millicent and Districts for some members of the community since the ANZ Bank reduced their business hours last year. 

With this week’s announcement the Naracoorte ANZ will close in November, the future of the ‘big banks’ is being questioned by customers. The Naracoorte closure will mean a loss of 10 jobs.

The Millicent ANZ Bank now only opens on weekdays from 9.30 am to 12.30pm which leaves little opportunity for businesses to bank the days takings. Business owners say they must make alternative overnight security arrangements and then ‘dash’ to the bank during the morning or what can be a busy lunchtime, to bank the takings from the day before. Business owners told us they quite often don’t have time to prepare that morning’s takings to bank on the same day.

Bank SA in Millicent is open on weekdays from Monday to Thursday 9.30am to 4.00 pm and Friday 9.30 to 5.00 pm. People’s Choice Credit Union is also open week days from 9.30am to 4.00pm.

The Commonwealth Bank closed in Millicent last year and the Westpac Agency, formerly situated in the Millicent Newsagency, closed several years ago. It was the last remaining Westpac agency on the mainland at the time.

Penola Bendigo Bank is open 10am to 3pm on Mondays, Wednesday and Thursday with a little longer to trade on Friday 10am to 4pm. The Penola ANZ and Commonwealth Banks are permanently closed but there are ATM’s.

When Banks announce they are reducing their trading hours or closure they often encourage clients to use the local Post Office for their banking needs, but this can be problematic too. Many small-town Post Offices are not staffed to accommodate the number of clients this may attract and there are cash holding limits with Australia Post.

Businesses that require large amounts of change, especially coinage, drive a one-hundred-kilometre round trip to Mt Gambier for change, sometimes do their shopping while they are in Mt Gambier and fill up with fuel. They say this is not good for the overall economy of Millicent, but limited banking services have a flow on effect they say.

With the remaining banks and the Post Office closed Saturday mornings, there are no available banking facilities in Millicent on Saturday mornings except for the ATM’s.

Telstra has also restricted their services. Telstra accounts can no longer be paid by cheque at Australia Post, payment is now limited to cash or credit card. If a private person pays the account on their personal credit card on behalf of the organisation, there is the issue of re-imbursement.

It’s a 100k round-trip to Mt Gambier to pay the Telstra account by cheque at the Telstra shop who told us they can’t accept a cheque payment by mail. Telstra won’t accept a cheque by post either, telling us, “ we will just cut you off” then.

One former business owner said they closed their accounts at the Millicent ANZ Bank because they live outside of town, it was difficult to get to the bank during the reduced opening times and anything other than simple transactions were hard for the staff to address under the circumstances which they said was not a criticism of the staff, just the conditions.

The Millicent Business owners we approached were not complaining about the staff at the Millicent ANZ, “they are so helpful, but the hours are very inconvenient,” they say.

Naracoorte Community News 27 October 2021

This article appeared in Naracoorte Community News, 27 October 2021.


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