Last Friday it was reported that the Australia New Zealand Bank will be closing its Lithgow branch for three months. Local radio station 2LT reported that locals visiting the bank on Friday morning were told that the branch would be closing for three months and is not aware of any written notifications provided to all its customers.
Chamber President Peter Pilbeam said ‘This is an unfortunate move by ANZ as many businesses and residents of the Lithgow region rely on the in-person services provided by the branch. ‘
‘The Chamber understands that COVID-19 has put pressure on many businesses, but it would have been appropriate for the bank to give all its customers and the public more notice, rather than advising only a handful of customers three days before the fact. We know that many people in the Lithgow community still use cash, cheques and passbooks. Customers can’t be expended to drive to Katoomba or Bathurst for banking services (which is where customers are being told to go) that can be done locally .’ said Pilbeam.
Lithgow Mayor Maree Statham is also concerned about ANZ Bank’s unexpected move. ‘After the devastating floods last week, this feels like another blow to our community in the Lithgow region. The Council would like to encourage ANZ to review their decision in light of the responses of our businesses and people.’ said Mayor Statham.
Deputy Premier, Minister for Regional NSW and Minister for Police the Hon Paul Toole MP, said ‘the ANZ Branch provides an important service to the public and businesses in the Lithgow area. The loss of a major bank’s presence in Lithgow is of serious concern and I ask the ANZ Bank to reconsider their position and to keep their doors open.’
The Hon Andrew Gee MP Federal Member for Calare and Minister for Veterans’ Affairs and Defence Personnel was a lot more direct in his response to the ANZ calling on the bank to guarantee a reopening of its doors on 1 April. He said ’There’s been a lot of doublespeak by the big banks about closures in recent times, and that’s why I’m calling on the ANZ and its CEO to make a very clear statement to the community to address their concerns that they’re not just going to use COVID-19 as an excuse to permanently close this branch.
“I think we’ve got to be very strong and united on this. We’ve got to put the feet of the ANZ to the fire and tell them that we will not accept a double-cross if that is what they’re thinking, and that they’re not going to get away with it’, said the Federal Minister.
The Lithgow District Chamber of Commerce is committed to keeping businesses in Lithgow and has approached ANZ headquarters in Melbourne for clarification regarding their branch presence in Lithgow.