The National Australia Bank will close its Maclean branch at the end of May, axing three staff and pushing local customers to find other means of banking.
The decision has been met with concern by the Maclean Chamber of Commerce. Chamber president Peter Gordon said many locals were upset by pending closure of the branch. He said such a move would have a negative impact on commercial confidence in Maclean, discouraging investment in the village.
Mr Gordon added that further encouraging locals to travel elsewhere for banking would encourage them to do other business outside of Maclean.
“People already go to Lismore or Grafton for things like supermarkets. When this happens it’s bad for local business – we need to do more to keep Maclean dollars circulating locally,” he said.
Mr Gordon said the Chamber would be making representations to the NAB, urging them to reconsider closure of the Maclean branch.
The NAB’s Jackie Connors, Head of Retail Customers Regional NSW/ACT, said customers’ use of other branches was a primary consideration in closing the Maclean branch.
“Branches will play an important role in banking for many years to come, but in some areas like Maclean our customers show a strong preference for using other branches or our mobile app, internet and phone banking. At the moment, 81 per cent of Maclean customers do their banking in other locations,” Ms Connors said.
“This said, to ensure banking with us remains easy and convenient, Maclean customers can continue to make deposits, withdraw cash or make payments at NAB’s Yamba branch, which we are investing in to improve services for our customers, or by using [email protected] at the Maclean post office on River Street.”
Clarence Valley mayor Jim Simmons questioned the NAB’s use of statistics, suggesting they could be misleading.
“The NAB says that 81 per cent of customers do bank at other locations, but it doesn’t say that they don’t also bank at the Maclean branch,” Cr Simmons said.
Cr Simmons labelled the NAB’s decision to close Maclean’s branch as “stupid”, considering a high level of development occurring locally, including the proposed new IGA, the ongoing highway upgrade, and Clarence River foreshore works. He said he believed business confidence was strong and would remain strong.
He said, however, that he believed there was little that could be done to change the bank’s decision.
The NAB has said it would look after the three staff left without jobs at the Maclean branch.
“When we change our branches we make every effort to find opportunities elsewhere in our network for our local teams. Where this isn’t possible, our employees will be offered full entitlements and have access to ongoing support including job placement services, further vocational training and our Employee Assistance Program,” Ms Connors said.
Closure of the Maclean branch follows an announcement late last year by NAB that it would be shedding 6000 jobs over three years, in a plan to slash expenses and use new technologies.