Blackall has become the latest Queensland town to face the loss of shopfront banking facilities with the announcement on Friday that the Commonwealth Bank would shut its doors in the town in June.
A spokeswoman said this was due to a 34 per cent decline in transactions in the branch over the past five years as customers chose to use other banking options such as online and mobile services.
“The decision to close our Blackall branch was not an easy one, and we know some members of the community will be disappointed,” she said.
The spokeswoman said they were committed to keeping an ATM in Blackall, but Blackall-Tambo Regional Council mayor, Andrew Martin, said the community would suffer from the four jobs to be lost.
He described the closure as a betrayal and said it came as a complete surprise as the bank had made no attempt to discuss the closure prior to making the announcement.
“Blackall has been suffering the effects of years of prolonged drought and low commodity prices but the resurgence of the wool industry has bought the first rays of optimism back into our community,” he said.
“Of all the small rural communities in Queensland, Blackall and Tambo are two of the very few showing a marginal population increase.
“This decision ignores the fact that the agricultural contributes a big percentage of the GDP of the nation.
“Without it, the Commonwealth Bank would never have gotten to where it is now.”
Cr Martin suggested that a number of very big accounts, possibly including the council’s $30 million worth of transactions, could be moved elsewhere.
“I suppose they’re just expecting loyalty, being the last bank with a shopfront in town, but why would you,” he asked.
“The banking sector’s reputation is already in tatters as demonstrated by the current government inquiry.
“Massive profits seem to be their only consideration and they are oblivious and uncaring about how their decisions affect ordinary Australian communities.”
The Blackall-Tambo Regional Council hosts a Bank of Queensland outlet at its council office in Tambo, which Cr Martin said was a cost to council.
“Is the Commonwealth Bank showing a loss? Show me their similar community obligation,” an obviously irate mayor continued.
He appealed to the bank to reconsider their decision and at the very least discuss with the community why they were withdrawing from the region and how the community could avert it.
The Blackall CBA branch’s last day of operation will be June 15.
The Commonwealth Bank spokeswoman said they had written to their regular customers to advise them the branch would be closing in 12 weeks.
“Our team will also use that time to talk to customers about their other banking options, which include the ATM or online,” she said. “Customers will also be able to complete personal and business banking transactions such as withdrawals, deposits and bill payments, including passbook accounts, during normal business hours, through the Australia Post outlet less than 150m from the branch.”
Customers can also access accounts 24 hours a day through NetBank, the CommBank App or by calling 13 22 21.