5 July 2023

Calls for change as further rural bank closures announced for the region

| Shri Gayathirie Rajen
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NAB will close its branches in Gundagai and Temora. Photo: Supplied.

Just days after NAB revealed plans for a $2.9 million investment in banking hub Wagga Wagga, the bank has also announced it will be closing branches in Temora and Gundagai.

Customers were informed via letters, emails sent through internet banking and signs displayed in the two branches.

In a statement NAB said closing a branch is always a difficult decision and it understands that the change may be a significant adjustment for some customers.

“More customers are choosing to do their banking online, over the phone or by video conference and over the past few years, fewer customers are coming into branches to do their banking and foot traffic has lessened,” the statement said.

“We’re a proud agribusiness and business bank, and for our agri and business customers across the Riverina, they’ll continue to be supported as they are today with their agri banker visiting them.

“There will be no job losses as part of this change – our branch teams will be provided new opportunities.”

They added that the NAB Wagga Wagga branch would be completely refurbished and relocated in late July 2023.

Temora Shire mayor Rick Firman said the announcement of the Temora branch was “extremely disappointing”.

“Both the regional NAB manager and local branch manager rang me for lengthy conversations this morning,” Cr Firman said. “While I was extremely disappointed with the current decision, I appreciated them reaching out.”

“This news is a kick in the belly for our Temora Shire community from an organisation that doesn’t seem to care about citizens in Temora Shire and many other rural communities.

“Council are considering our next steps,” he said.

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Cootamundra-Gundagai Regional Council mayor Charlie Sheahan also expressed his disappointment in the news.

“Not happy at all. It’s something that is happening right across regional NSW, where country towns are losing their banks,” Cr Sheahan said. “There’s no real commitment to customer service at all. It’s profit-driven, and they are ignoring our communities.

“For a little town like Gundagai, it’s very challenging.”

Cr Sheahan said the closure is particularly disappointing for elderly residents, who often rely on physical branches to do their banking.

“Many of our elderly community are not across electronic banking, and they require face-to-face service,” he said. “And for elderly people to travel to Wagga from Gundagai is unfair to the community.”

Cr Sheahan added it affects not only the elderly but also community groups and local organisations.

“When they run sausage sizzles, they need cash change. We’re not a cashless society yet.

“This is posing greater challenges for those community groups who get out there and volunteer their time for community events.

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Federal Member for Riverina Michael McCormack slammed NAB’s decision to close its small rural branches.

“To close banks in Gundagai and Temora while a Senate Inquiry into bank closures in regional Australia is underway is, quite frankly, remarkably brash and quite appalling,” Mr McCormack said.

“Gundagai and Temora both have significantly older population sectors, which are still reliant on the services provided through face-to-face banking and, ironically, are most likely unable to travel to neighbouring towns to continue accessing these services,” he added.

“Businesses and organisations which have cash holdings face uncertainty as to what they will need to do to ensure their cash is deposited in a manner that doesn’t put people at risk, both from a road safety and a theft perspective.”

Mr McCormack said he understands how people do their banking is changing, but implored NAB to reconsider the short-sighted decision and maintain the services these towns need, want, expect and, most importantly, deserve.

“These communities deserve more than this blatant disregard of their towns after generations of hard-working families have supported the NAB, particularly through agribusiness,” he said.

“Country people have supported the NAB for decades, and to have these branches pulled at what is a moment’s notice in the scheme of things is galling.”

Customers can also visit the nearest Post Office offering Bank@Post, where they can withdraw, deposit cash and cheques, and check their account balance using their pin-enabled card.

NAB customers can visit their nearest alternative branches in Cootamundra, Tumut or Wagga Wagga. For Temora customers, the Cootamundra branch is 54 km away and the Wagga branch is 86 km away. For Gundagai customers, the Tumut branch is 34km away, Cootamundra branch is 60 km away and the Wagga branch is 91 km away.

The Gundagai branch will close on 26 September and Temora branch will close on 28 September.

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