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18 February, 2021

NAB - Not Able to Bank

THE Gordonvale business community and residents are bitterly disappointed with the news of the planned closure of their National Australia Bank branch in May.

By Peter McCullagh

The bank recently informed customers the branch would close on May 6 ending more than 107 years of banking in Gordonvale.

Residents joined together earlier this week to stage a protest outside the Gordon Street branch.  Twenty-five very concerned customers gathered to express concern and disgust at the planned closure. Group spokesman, David Chalk feels this move is a kick in the guts to the town.

“We need our bank. This branch gives us direct personal service. We don’t need the internet to do our banking we want to sit down face to face and speak to a real person about our banking, not a machine.

“They tell us that 70 per cent of the customers here also visit other branches in the region. So, do we live in a bubble here in Gordonvale?

“I visit Cairns every few months, I might go to the branch there, but I bank here. This is where I need my branch not somewhere I visit every few months.

“For many residents we don’t have computers and the trip to the nearest NAB bank is 40 minutes away by bus. This is not good enough,“said Mr Chalk.

Sentiment was running high during the impromptu protest. Residents are genuinely concerned about internet scammers who contact them by phone. “They want to force us to use the internet where we are targeted regularly by conmen trying to steal our money. Does that sound like they care about their customers?”

Internet and phone scammers deliberately target the elderly with their elaborate schemes, designed to steal banking details and or identity. The residents Cairns Local News spoke to this week feel they are exposing themselves to greater risk of scammers if forced to embrace internet banking.

“Some of these scams are very elaborate and also quite genuine in their appearance. Why would we sign up for internet banking and run the risk?”said Mr Chalk. 

Many protesting on Monday have been NAB customers and banking at the branch for 60 plus years. The withdrawal of banking services from their town will cost them dearly.

It is rumoured the ATM will also be going, leaving no bank owned ATM in the town. “If we need to use an ATM we will be forced to use a privately owned ATM costing three dollars per transaction.

“If we want service, we will need to drive, catch a bus or taxi to Earlville, just to speak to someone and get customer service.

“They are putting profits before the interest of their customers; the very ones that help them earn billions.”

Gordonvale is definitely not a sleepy town on the verge of closing. With a thriving business community as well as servicing a large rural community Gordonvale needs their financial institutions.

Division 1 Councillor Brett Moller, a long term resident and businessman in the community has been approached by many residents of the town regarding the planned closure.

“Clearly in the short term this will be cause for concern for NAB customers particularly those who need to deal in cash. However the Gordonvale Post Office is an agency for the Commonwealth Bank that can deal in cash. As an agency they may also be able to service NAB customers with card or passbooks who may need to do a cash transaction and I will look to make enquiries in this regard,” he said.

NAB Retail Customer Executive, Richard Fox said the decision to close the branch was not taken lightly.

“Our investment in our services and locations is guided by how customers are banking, through digital channels, with mobile bankers or at a branch. Over the past few years, fewer customers are coming into branches to do their banking and foot traffic has lessened dramatically, which has been accelerated by COVID.

 “Increasingly customers are banking digitally, with more than 93% of customer interactions now taking place over the phone, by video or online. More than 70% of our customers in Gordonvale also use other NAB branches such as Earlville and Cairns.

 “We understand the importance of bankers to regional and rural communities like Gordonvale and we will continue to support customers with their banking needs.  Our team will be working with customers over the coming weeks until we close the branch on 6 May, talking with them about the various banking alternatives available to them,” he said.

The residents feel betrayed. Loyalty is a principle they hold dear. For some they have been lifelong customers of the bank and feel their loyalty is not respected and appreciated.


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