Berrigan facing life without financial institution after NAB opts to end its interest in odd fashion

Interest withheld: Berrigan councillor Bernard Curtin outside the NAB branch in Chanter Street, Berrigan, which will be closed by the banking titan in July.  A fall in patronage is being blamed for the shutdown.
Interest withheld: Berrigan councillor Bernard Curtin outside the NAB branch in Chanter Street, Berrigan, which will be closed by the banking titan in July. A fall in patronage is being blamed for the shutdown.

NAB is shutting Berrigan’s only bank, after mistakenly telling the town’s council in a formal submission it was committed to the branch.

The outlet will close on July 7 with Berrigan Council’s general manager told in a letter from a NAB manager that it was a result of “declining day-to-day activity”.

But last month, in replying to the council seeking expressions of interest to service its banking needs, NAB committed to over-the-counter service at Berrigan.

After admitting it planned to close the branch, NAB submitted a revised expression of interest.

Their decision has upset the community, with NAB having been the sole bank in town since ANZ shut its site in 1997.

“There’s extreme disappointment to say the least,” Berrigan councillor Bernard Curtin said.

He said the decision flew in the face of commitments received by Riverina NAB managers.

“We had two meetings last year and they categorically assured us they wouldn’t close the branch, that was face-to-face with a regional supervisor from Albury and local supervisor from Cobram,” Cr Curtin said.

An action committee to keep a financial institution at Berrigan was formed on Tuesday night with Cr Curtin one of its members.

He said NAB would be approached to reverse its decision and the Central Murray Credit Union, which had previously shown interest, also contacted.

The Bendigo Bank will give a presentation to the committee next month.

NAB’s decision has left Berrigan Council’s banking measures in limbo.

The shire’s corporate services director Matt Hansen said the shire would observe the committee’s efforts before deciding whether to leave NAB.

A motion passed at Wednesday’s council meeting stated it would “reconsider its objectives and requirements for its banking services” but “retain its current banking arrangements in the interim”.

Mr Hansen said during rate collection periods the council would be depositing cash and cheques in the “high five figures”.

He said a trip to Finley to undertake that banking would not only be inconvenient but a safety risk.

Berrigan Council would become one of the few councils in Australia not to have a bank in its hometown.

Mr Hansen noted that Jerilderie and Coleambally, both smaller shires before merging last year, had bank agencies in their respective towns.

Council general manager Rowan Perkins said NAB had indicated it expected branches to have 200 transactions a day and the Berrigan had only 900 a month.

The branch has one worker who NAB plans to redeploy.