The Finance Sector Union (FSU) condemns the National Australia Bank (NAB) for its failure to join its major competitors and ‘pause’ the continuing closure of regional bank branches while the Senate Rural and Regional Affairs Committee inquires into bank branch closures.
NAB Executive for Retail Krissie Jones told the Committee hearing in Sale, Victoria today that NAB would not pause its branch closure program with five branches announced for closure and more closures likely.
Asked if NAB would commit to not closing any further branches while the Senate Inquiry proceeded, Ms Jones replied: “We will continue to invest in regional Australia and some of that will also mean we will close some locations.”
The CBA, ANZ and Westpac have paused some closures while the inquiry is underway.
FSU National Secretary Julia Angrisano said NAB’s determination to continue closing banks was out of step with its major competitors.
“This is a pig-headed approach from NAB to refuse to understand that the big banks are on the nose with customers and businesses who want branch closures stopped,” Ms Angrisano said.
“The wider community is sick of branch closures which force them to travel long distances to conduct business face to face at a bank.”
Both NAB and Westpac executives confirmed to the Committee that there was no community consultation prior to bank branches closing. While NAB had instigated a branch closure Impact Statement, it was essentially a desk-top ‘tick and flick’ operation in head office instead of a serious analysis of the impact of closures on the community.
“It is unbelievable that with 5,000 businesses and 2,000 farms in the Wellington Shire around Sale, that Westpac can just shut down its branch and walk away leaving customers in the lurch.”
“We agree with comments from Senators during the hearing that indicates they will consider recommending mutual service obligations for the banks to maintain branches in regional areas,” Ms Angrisano said.
“While evidence from Westpac and the NAB relied heavily on their Bank@Post deals with Australia Post when shutting branches, we know that cash transactions are limited and other transactions like deceased estates, domestic violence and issuing of bank cheques can’t be handled at the Post Office.”
“All Australians deserve to be able to access the full range of financial services regardless of where they live.”
“The banks have been using branch closures to prop up their massive profits for years and it’s time they were forced to maintain customer service to local communities in both regional and metropolitan areas.”
Media contact John Hill 0412 197 079