NAB closes 56 rural branches

The Finance Sector Union and the Australian Consumers' Association have slammed the National Australia Bank's decision to close dozens of country branches and shed 5,000 staff. The NAB announced yesterday that it intends to close 56 rural limited-service agencies over the next five months and instead offer services through Australia Post offices. 28 agencies will be closed in Victoria, 14 in NSW, seven in Queensland, six in SA and one in WA.

The Finance Sector Union's Tony Beck said that the move is driven by greed and will have a devastating effect on jobs and small towns. He said that over the past nine months the NAB has closed 100 branches across Australia.

The ACA's Catherine Wolzhuizen said the closures will punish loyal customers for the bank's bad investments. “It's all about covering up its mistakes and slugging its customers and the community for that”, she said.

But the NAB's Ian MacDonald responded by saying that the changes are due to a drop in over-the-counter transactions.

The Commonwealth Bank's MD David Murray has said that the bank has no intention of making large-scale cuts to its branch network – however, its restructuring program will lead to some job losses, though he can't predict the numbers at this stage. The bank's restructure will take up to five years and thus by not rushing it, most of the 34,000-strong workforce will be secure, he said.

Mr Murray said that the CBA is continuing to make “minor adjustments” to its branch network but it still has around 4,000 outlets, which makes it the broadest and most accessible distribution system in the banking industry.