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Community & Business

1 February, 2024

Locals left hanging with NAB branch set to close

Bank corners will be a thing of the past when NAB closes its doors permanently in April – and the locals aren’t happy about it.

Frustrated by the impending closure of another bank in town are local business representatives Rhonda Ashton (Pittsworth District Alliance, Ashton’s Butchery), Renee Markey (Pittsworth Newsagency), Sharon Denning (Cains Pharmacy), Alex Metcalf (Beauaraba Living), Mark Lindenberg (Lindenberg & Co. Mitsubishi), Matthew Pfeffer (Price Busters Variety), Shane and Tracy Smith (IGA Pittsworth).

Proprietors of Pittsworth IGA, Shane and Tracy Smith, voiced their frustration at the impending NAB closure and are worried what it might mean for their business. 

“I think it’s ridiculous. The amount I bank a week – I need a bank!” Ms Smith said. 

The IGA is also worried about how residents and businesses will go about acquiring change. 

Mr Smith told The Sentinel that people already visit them for this service but it could pose more difficulty when NAB closes its doors. 

“People start using us as the bank because we’re open more. 

“You try and do the right thing to help them out but we can’t carry a safe full of money,” Mr Smith said. 

President of the Pittsworth District Alliance (PDA) and local business owner, Rhonda Ashton, believes the loss of the NAB facility will affect the entire community. 

Residents - especially the elderly, businesses, clients, and employees will all be impacted, she said. 

Despite admitting that the PDA saw this coming, Ms. Ashton wondered, “Where’s the discussion?” 

There is also concern for local NAB employees who have worked in the Pittsworth branch for many years. 

“Where’s NAB’s loyalty to their staff? 

“Will they be made to travel to Toowoomba or Warwick for work?” Ms Ashton asked. 

The PDA also fears for the international employees of some of Pittsworth’s largest agricultural businesses. 

These workers rely on NAB services to bank and transfer money overseas every week through face to face interaction, and the PDA questioned, what their options are now. 

Chief Executive Officer of Beauaraba Living, Alex Metcalf, expressed his disappointment at the closure. 

“We are working very closely with our account manager to make a smooth transition via Pittsworth Australia Post Office,” he revealed. 

With ANZ and the Commonwealth Bank shutting their doors in past years, Pittsworth residents are, sadly, not unfamiliar with transitioning from bank to bank. 

One of the consequences of NAB’s impending closure, that is looming over local businesses, is the reality that people will end up in Toowoomba for their banking, and ultimately for their shopping too, rather than in Pittsworth. 

Contrary to its catch phrase ‘we think locally’, NAB is driving people toward the larger cities. 

This has been evident in the closure of surrounding branches, first Oakey in August of 2021, and then Clifton in April of 2023. 

MP Garth Hamilton was in town last Friday to express his concern about the recent announcement. 

“NAB said during the Voice campaign it was important to listen to regional voices, how do you do that if you keep closing regional bank branches?” he asked. 

NAB has shut about 30 regional branches since March 2023, despite donating $1.5 million to the YES campaign and posting a $7.7 billion profit. 

“I am disappointed with NAB’s decision, this will reduce accessibility and make talking with your local banker harder,” Mr Hamilton said. 

Come April 18, the only bank to remain open in Pittsworth will be Heritage. 

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