By Shelby Brooks
COMMONWEALTH Bank will be the second big bank to pull out of Korumburra in three years.
The announcement was made this week with a sign on the building window informing customers it would permanently shut its doors on December 4.
Korumburra Business Association president Noelene Cosson said the situation was reminiscent of when National Australia Bank (NAB) withdrew from Korumburra in February 2017.
“It’s disappointing the way big bank corporations treat country towns,” she told the Sentinel-Times today (Wednesday, October 28).
“We went through this when NAB closed.
“Fighting the NAB closure was like flogging a dead horse, so we’ve decided not to try and fight this closure.”
ANZ Bank also exited Korumburra several years ago in September 2014.
CommBank regional general manager David Castle said the closure was in-line with the building’s lease expiry on the corner of Commercial and Bridge Streets and was decided from a recent review.
“This branch has had a 38 per cent drop in transactions over the past five years,” he said.
Mr Castle said the significant increase of customers using online banking played a role in the decision.
“For customers over the age of 60, more than twice as many had accessed Netbank or the CommBank App in the past month, compared to the number who had visited a branch in the last three months,” Mr Castle said.
“We’ve ensured customers who prefer over-the-counter service still have access to this option. For Korumburra customers, we have branches in the region at Leongatha, Wonthaggi and Warragul.
“We’ve also found that over 35 per cent of customers from Korumburra are visiting these branches.”
But Noelene said having a branch in Leongatha doesn’t cut it.
“We want to keep Korumburra people shopping in Korumburra,” she said.
“If they go to Leongatha, they’re likely to stay and do other shopping there.
“It’s beyond a joke.”
The Korumburra LPO Australia Post outlet will still be available for personal and business transactions for CommBank customers such as withdrawals, deposits and bill payments including passbooks during normal business hours.
Important service for small town
Many business owners in Korumburra were surprised by the news.
Kelly Hughes of Burra Garden Supplies said she was disappointed she had to learn of the closure on social media and not via the branch.
She also does not want to be forced to use the only remaining bank in town.
“We bank with CommBank every day,” she said.
“It’s none of the staff’s fault, we’re angry at the bank itself, not them.
“I know the post office will offer some services, but they have lines out the door half the time and we don’t know day-to-day how much change we might need [to order change in advance from the post office].”
Rob Buchan has been with CommBank for the entire 17 years his Modern Male Menswear store has been operating in Korumburra.
“It’s pretty ordinary,” he said.
“We’re a small country town, these services are important.
“Particularly because Korumburra has an older population.”