Bumper dessert, but bank deserts Narooma

The news NAB intends to close its Narooma branch continues to upset retirees, businesses and the Eurobodalla Shire.

In November last year, the bank announced a sweet dessert in the form of a $6.6 billion profit.

Less palatable was the news it intended to shed 6000 jobs over the coming years.

Distinctly bitter last week was the realisation cost cutting would hit our coastal town.

It is a case of triple trouble for Narooma.

We have lost three banks in three years.

Early in 2015, Westpac/St George announced it would close its branch, and would operate a scaled-down service from a florist in the Plaza.

That idea soon withered on the vine and customers were left with a choice of driving to either Batemans Bay or Bega for face-to-face service.

That has not been so easy for everyone, as Michel Le Bars, of North Narooma, explains in a letter to the Narooma News. Mr Le Bars is 85 years old, his wife Susan is 81. Their disabilities have slowed them down, but they have this week decided to vote with their feet and march to another financial institution.

Last year, the ANZ closed its branch in Narooma, sparking the same sense of betrayal.

As the Banking Royal Commission rolls on, readers are in no doubt profits too often come before people.

The big banks have clout and can offer competitive products, but is that a fair exchange for a genuine loyalty to rural and regional towns?

Businesses on the Far South Coast know all about boom and bust.

They experience the cycle every summer and winter.

In the good times, they want to be able to carry the day’s takings to a branch across or down the road.

In the lean times, they want to be able to speak face-to-face with friendly staff who know them by name.

Eurobodalla Shire Mayor Liz Innes rebuked NAB last week for the closure, noting the shire’s $15 million investment portfolio.

“It’s disappointing that a valued national institution such as NAB isn’t supporting local communities,” Cr Innes said.

“We want to do business with those who support our local community.”

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