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Towns fear closures as NAB cuts branches to three hours per day


Regional Queensland towns fear they will lose National Australia Bank (NAB) branches altogether as opening times are cut to just three hours a day.

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From this week, 114 NAB branches in regional and rural areas across the country — 23 in Queensland — will slash operating hours.

The branches will now open at 9:30am and close at 12:30pm on weekdays.

When you are on a remote station in outback Queensland it is not always easy to travel to the bank and it is about to get harder.

John Ogg lives at Ayrshire Downs north of the outback Queensland town of Winton. “It’s probably 200km to the nearest NAB Bank,” he said.

“If the NAB can’t see it in themselves to keep those doors open for the normal trading hours which we’ve had, I think it’s pretty weak.”

NAB is the only bank in Winton, and locals fear the cut is the first step to closing altogether.

Winton Butchers owner Debbie Nicholls fears the change could affect the safety of their takings.

“We’re a business, we have cash coming in the door every day,” she said.

“We can’t hold it here because of security reasons.”

Customers change banking behaviour: NAB

NAB spokeswoman Krissie Jones said the bank was simply responding to customer behaviour.

It is encouraging people to use the post office or phone and internet banking.

“We have seen a real shift in which our customers do bank with us,” Jones said.

“This provides a terrific opportunity for our Winton team to learn new skills and support customers in different ways,” she said.

Locals say reduced hours are the death knell for bank branches in small towns.

Ogg has urged the bank to reconsider.

“There’s not many showers out here but we haven’t come down in the last shower,” Mr Ogg said.

NAB has a moratorium on branch closures until January 2021.

– ABC / Daniel Prosser and Damien Larkins

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