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Bank branches to close as profits soar?

Member for Barwon Roy Butler outside the Bourke branch of the National Australia Bank. Photo TWH

There are growing concerns about the possible closure or further reductions of hours at Bourke’s two banks and other banks throughout the far west.

The Australian Banking Association warned many banks could not attract staff and had to cut back their opening hours – or close.

Meanwhile, it is estimated the ‘big four’ banks will make combined cash earnings of $33.5 billion in the 2023 financial year, up from $28.5 billion last year.

Member for Barwon Roy Butler said there was little state or federal governments could do to stop the banks shutting their doors in small rural communities like Bourke, Brewarrina, and Walgett, and it was one of the main issues Bourke Mayor Barry Hollman raised at the recent Western Division Councils conference.

“The NAB is definitely at risk of closure in Bourke, with claims the local branch can’t get staff, and that’s why they are closing branches in our country towns,” Councillor Hollman said.

“But the reason banks can’t attract staff is because they put them on casual rates, and won’t pay them properly, so staff can’t rent houses in the town or afford to settle here.

“It is a big issue affecting our town,” he said.

The National Australia Bank opens until 12.30pm weekdays and the Commonwealth is open until 1pm weekdays, but with staff in short supply, those hours are often shortened, and, in some cases, the branches may be closed for longer periods of time.

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