BANK CLOSURE: Tara local and newsagency manager Gayle Porter.
BANK CLOSURE: Tara local and newsagency manager Gayle Porter. Madison Watt

Town without a bank: 'It feels a bit like a betrayal'

TARA residents feel their community has been abandoned after the last bank in town announced it will close this year.

NAB has confirmed their Tara office will close in August with locals set to travel to either Chinchilla or Dalby to do their banking.

Tara Newsagency manager Gayle Porter said the announcement was a serious blow to the community.

"In Tara we're just country folk and we expect loyalty from the last bank with a shop in town," Mrs Porter said.

"It feels a bit like a betrayal and a complete shock."

NAB general manager regional Queensland Wayne Atkinson said the decision was made after consulting with staff.

"The way customers are banking in south-west Queensland and right across Australia, is changing," Mr Atkinson said.

"In Tara, Allora and Crows Nest, 80-90 per cent of customers also use other NAB branches as well as using phone and internet banking.

"For this reason, we have made a difficult decision and one we don't take lightly, to close the Tara, Allora and Crows Nest branches in August this year."

Mr Atkinson said the bank will explain banking options to customers and work with community organisations to assist locals during the transition.

Mrs Porter explained for Tara residents, the closure presents numerous problems of access, and the potential security risk of travelling long distances with large quantities of money.

"Electronic channels outside our town is not available in a lot of places, people do not have internet access or phone access in a lot of areas, we do not have mobile service where I live," Mrs Porter explained.

"Our older customers... a significant number of these people still bank the traditional old way."

Tara local Lou Thornbury explained there were further flow on effects for businesses in town.

"Once the bank leaves well everyone goes out of town to shop, and they do all their business out of town," Mrs Thornbury said.

Member for Warrego Ann Leahy described NAB's decision as a "slap in the face" for loyal customers.

"The closure will impact on community organisations who will not be able deposit their takings at the Post Office as there are more funds than the Post Office can manage," Ms Leahy said.

"People already travel up to an hour to do their banking in Tara they will now have to travel an additional 80 kilometres to access face to face banking services.

"Elderly members of the community in Tara are being discriminated against as many don't have access to a computer or feel comfortable accessing online platforms.

"I will be writing to both RACQ and Bendigo Banks to ask if they could consider opening a branch in Tara."

For Mrs Porter, her main concern was the lack of consultation with the community before the decision to close the branch was made.

"Country people, we've been battling drought and everything else, it's tough and it's getting tougher, and the viability and the valuations of businesses, what Tara needs is business to come here and start to operate and business is going to look at the first thing... 'is there a relationship I can have with a bank here?'."

"I'm really frightened for our town, our business... about the long term viability of our town."


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