Winton grazier Charlie Phillott, who took on ANZ and won, has died aged 88

Winton grazier Charlie Phillott, who took on ANZ and won, has died aged 88

Outback Queensland grazier Charlie Phillott, who took on and won one of Australia’s biggest banks, has died aged 88.

Important points:

Charlie Phillott gained notoriety when he took on ANZ after his property was seized amid drought

He received a formal apology from the bank

MPs and friends say mr. Phillott was a “great Australian” and a pioneer in his industries

Mr Phillott was a well-known tourism operator and pioneer in the cattle industry who rose to prominence when ANZ-owned Landmark dramatically devalued its property due to drought in 2014.

The Winton cattle grazer was ordered off his Carisbrooke station, which had been in his family for 50 years, after the bank deemed it an “unviable risk”, despite never missing a mortgage repayment.

His loan was one of thousands acquired by ANZ when it bought the $2.3 billion Landmark loan book in 2010.

The move sparked a personal battle with the bank and catapulted the “humble” shepherd into the national spotlight.

One year later, ANZ returned the property and formally apologized.

Federal MP Bob Katter, who campaigned with drought-stricken farmers whose properties were repossessed, said Mr. Phillott was a “titan among men”.

“If you took out your cloth and your easel and [painted] a picture of the perfect Australian … that would have been Charlie Phillott,” Mr Katter said.

“He was an ordinary person … but he was determined to solve the problems of Australia.”

Charlie Phillott was initially reluctant to share his story. (Provided by John Elliott)

Mr. Katter said that Mr. Phillott was initially reluctant to front the media to draw attention to his situation and that of other farmers.

“Charlie gave a written agreement that he would keep quiet if he walked off the property and go peacefully,” Mr Katter said.

“He was a man of his word and did not want to break that agreement to talk about how he was treated by the bank.

“He said he would pray to Jesus and think about it for a few days … finally said he would. The rest is history.”

In 2018, the Royal Commission into Banking found ANZ had not acted fairly or responsibly towards Mr. Phillott’s case did not act.

“I think the deals were consistent, but I think they weren’t fair and they weren’t reasonable,” ANZ’s former head of lending, Benjamin Steinberg, said at the time.

Speaking outside the royal commission, Mr Phillott said he felt vindicated by the findings.

“I think people in the banks … need to change their course, it is important that they treat people and their customers everywhere as human beings,” said Mr. Phillott said.

Community man, tourism pioneer

Outback Queensland photographer and friend John Elliott said Mr. Phillott is loved and adored throughout the region, especially for his work in the community.

Charlie Phillott was respected for his work in the community. (Provided: John Elliott)

“I didn’t have many home-cooked meals in Winton and every Wednesday night almost without fail I got an invitation to join Charlie and [his wife] Anne,” he said.

Mr. Elliott said that Mr. Phillott was known for his pioneering work in tourism, which he turned to as a means of generating income during the drought.

“Most Australians would like to visit overseas and this has driven tourism in overseas Queensland,” Mr Elliott said.

“He was a wonderful man. He is a man of faith and he had many friends who were not of that calling.

“He had a wonderful ability to really stand up for what he believed in, but at the same time he would welcome other people’s views.

“I think the world could do with a lot more of that.”

Editor’s note 01/31/23: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that Mr. Phillott was 93 when he died.

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