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Hunter MP slams NAB closure in Cessnock

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Hunter MP Dan Repacholi has slammed the National Australia Bank (NAB) for closing its branch in Cessnock, months after the ANZ did likewise.

It’s the second major blow for residents, despite the LGA recently being labelled one of the fastest-growing towns in NSW.

The Cessnock-based politician believes it will have a huge impact on the local community.

“The NAB sent me a letter this week advising of its decision to shut the Cessnock branch in June,” he said.

“That means National Australia Bank has closed every outlet in the LGA, forcing their customers to travel 30-plus kilometres to the nearest branch in Maitland or Glendale.”

Mr Repacholi admitted he was stunned by the announcement.

“Why would NAB abandon the Cessnock community when it made more than $7 billion in profit last year?” he said.

“These large corporations do not understand the needs of smaller regional areas.

“The locals are often minutes from their bank, not like in the big cities.

“The National Australia Bank fails to understand that customers still value and rely on conducting their banking in person, especially when an issue arises and contacting the call centre just does not cut it.

“Local businesses who are reliant on daily over-the-counter services are raising real concerns with me about what this closure will mean for their enterprise.

“Swapping from one bank to another for a major business like a real estate agency or a law firm is not a simple task.”

NAB retail customer executive Hunter Coast Jamie Apostolovski said it was a difficult decision to close the branch.

“Quite simply, fewer customers are using it for their banking,” he stated.

“While we understand the community will be disappointed, this decision was made after looking closely at the number of customers using this branch and the increased use of digital banking in the area. 

“Just as they’re using online government services to complete their tax or a Medicare claim, locals are increasingly choosing to bank digitally because it’s more convenient.  

“Today, more than 93% of transactions in Australia are taking place online… and this is increasing. 

“The team at the Cessnock post office is ready to help NAB customers with their day-to-day banking through our Bank@Post service, which is significant investment for NAB.

“There’ll be no job losses as part of this change.

“The branch team has been offered other roles across the bank.” 

But, Mr Repacholi labelled NAB’s move a “step in the wrong direction”.

“Last year we saw the ANZ close its Cessnock branch and, in the coming 12 months, we’ll probably lose another branch when either the Greater or the Newcastle Permanent closes following their merger,” he said.

“These rich fat cats in Sydney office blocks, who never travel to regional areas, now expect customers to travel 30 kilometres to Maitland or Glendale just to do their banking.

“This decision shows that the bank is putting profits ahead of people.

“It’s an absolute disgrace.

“And, given the National Australia Bank is walking away from us, I’d urge those, who can, to walk away from them.

“There are a few smaller banks who are opening branches in regional areas that would be happy to take new customers on board.

“I’d encourage locals to explore those options.

“There is also a petition, on my website, so I urge people to sign it and let the bank know exactly how they feel about this decision.”

The Cessnock Business Chamber received confirmation that Westpac, Beyond Bank and Greater Bank were still committed to the LGA.

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