Westpac, NAB, faces Senate committee over store closures

National Australia Bank’s head of retail banking, Krissie Jones, said local mayors were notified of decisions to close branches at the same time letters to customers were sent out, but they were not involved in the decision-making process.

Jones said just 3 percent of its customers would have relied solely on its branch network for banking by 2022.

“Many of our customers go to other places to shop or see a doctor.”

Krissie Jones, NAB

When asked about the need for customers in regions hit by branch closures to travel to another city for personal banking services, Jones said many were already doing so for other errands.

“Many of our customers go to other places to do their shopping or to see the doctor,” she said.

In a media release Thursday, the Finance Sector Union said it condemned NAB for “failing to join major competitors and ‘pause’ the ongoing regional bank branch closures while the Senate Rural and Regional Affairs Committee investigating the closure of bank branches”.


The Commonwealth Bank, ANZ and Westpac have suspended some closures while the investigation is ongoing.

The union also criticized NAB and Westpac for not adequately consulting with communities before closing their branches.

“While the NAB prompted a statement on the impact of the store closures, it was essentially a desktop tick-and-flick operation at headquarters and not a serious analysis of the impact of closures on the community,” the union said .

Jones and Miller noted their banks’ partnerships with Australia Post, which allow them to offer their over-the-counter banking services through participating post offices.

But FSU Queensland local executive secretary Wendy Streets said the services available through post offices were limited. “Anything more complex than simple deposit or withdrawal services is not available at Australia Post,” she said.


The union also said transactions such as estates of deceased or transactions related to domestic violence circumstances and the writing of bank checks could not be processed at the post office.

Streets said bank closures in regional areas would disproportionately hit small business owners, people without internet coverage in remote areas, and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander customers who “already face enormous challenges accessing banking services”.

Both Westpac and NAB were asked how the bank closures were affecting their employees in regional areas.

“We consult with employees right at the beginning of the process,” Miller said. “If we look at the cohort from regional areas, we were able to successfully transition 48 percent of them.”

Jones said NAB has offered alternative roles at the bank to all employees affected by branch closures and that the lender has retained 97 percent of its employees.

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https://www.smh.com.au/business/banking-and-finance/westpac-nab-grilled-over-regional-branch-closures-20230302-p5cotk.html?ref=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_source=rss_business Westpac, NAB, faces Senate committee over store closures

Brian Lowry

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