QUEENSLANDERS are 25% worse than the rest of the country when it comes to defaulting on mortgage repayments, according to ANZ data.
The total number of lenders nationally who are three months in arrears is .6%, but in Queensland it is .8%.
The bank’s Australian chief executive, Phil Chronican, raised the worrying spike during a visit to the Sunshine Coast last Wednesday.
“Things like the strong Australian dollar mean tourism is weaker, and with less spend coming into areas that have been traditionally dependant on tourism that has an effect across the business community,” he said prior to a lunch at Montego’s with some customers.
“Particularly with Queensland having some issues with floods, what we’ve tried to do is work with customers.
“If the customer is well intentioned and trying to get back on top, the best thing we can do is keep them in a property or in a business and help
them work their way through it.
“It’s a last resort where you move to repossession, because that tends to lead to a negative outcome for everybody involved.
“We have 800,000 home loans in Australia, and only 105 are mortgagee in possessions, so it is not something we do a lot.”
Mr Chronican, who shifted to ANZ from Westpac in late 2009, said his own business was investigating ways to deal with a weakened economy.
He said the bank was looking at restructuring the branch network in future in response to over-the-counter transactions declining 4% a year.
“That tells you the nature of a branch has to move from being a transaction centre to a place where you come to talk about banking needs, opening a new account or getting a mortgage.
“We are becoming sales, information and support centres rather than transaction centres.
“That may mean fewer tellers but more service consultants, more advice and places we can use as a hub where people come to meet with a specialist rather than day-to-day transactions.
“I still think there’s a case for a national network. I don’t think we will move away from being many hundreds of branches.
“We have 820 at the moment, it’s hard to imagine you can get national coverage without having that.”
He said ANZ may also reduce the number of suburban city branches to further consolidate.
“Credit standards generally had weakened prior to the crisis and we are seeing a reversion to more normal credit standards at the moment.
“It might feel like it’s tightening from a borrower’s viewpoint but we are quite keen to lend on good quality business.”
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