Murray-Wellington MLA Robyn Clarke clashes with NAB after bank seeks to correct community forum comments

Headshot of Sean Van Der Wielen
Sean Van Der WielenHarvey-Waroona Reporter
Murray-Wellington MLA Robyn Clarke discusses NAB's decision to close its Waroona branch at the September 7 community meeting.
Camera IconMurray-Wellington MLA Robyn Clarke discusses NAB's decision to close its Waroona branch at the September 7 community meeting. Credit: Sean Van Der Wielen/Harvey-Waroona Reporter

Tensions are brewing between the National Australia Bank and Murray-Wellington MLA Robyn Clarke after the bank sought to correct comments she made at a community meeting discussing its Waroona branch closure.

Speaking to the 180 people who attended the meeting at the Waroona Memorial Hall on September 7, Ms Clarke sought to use her 15-year experience working in the banking industry to explain how the banks think and why they make their decisions.

“They monitor what type of transactions are happening through the door,” she said.

“If there’s not enough lending coming out of the bank, if there’s not enough insurance being sold at the bank, if there’s not enough financial planning coming out of the bank, it’s not profitable to the bank.”

The comments drew alarm bells within NAB as it does not offer financial planning or sell insurance products out of its Waroona branch, which it is set to close on November 17 and leave the town with only limited banking services through Australia Post.

In a statement, a company spokesperson responded to Ms Clarke comments.

“Providing accurate information to the community on the difficult decision to close a branch is vital,” they said.

“That’s why we provide the reasons and facts that the decision was based on to community leaders, local government and journalists as well as publishing them on our website.”

NAB went as far as contacting Ms Clarke last week to reiterate its reasons for closing the branch, which Ms Clarke confirmed she had received.

But she hit bank at the bank, claiming NAB had “set themselves up to fail by only offering day-to-day transactions” and not offering more comprehensive services.

“This service model, which doesn’t offer other banking services, is unprofitable for any banking institution,” she said.

Ms Clarke also disputed claims she was offered a meeting with the bank’s representatives on the closure before the community meeting.

NAB declined to comment further on the matter.

The escalation in tensions between the MLA and the bank overshadowed NAB’s confirmation it will seek to retain its 24-hour ATM within Waroona.

A company spokesperson confirmed talks were taking place on the issue.

“We’re continuing discussions on retaining the NAB ATM in Waroona,” they said.

“We’re also working with our customers to introduce them to digital banking options and Bank@Post at the Waroona Post Office and our business and agri bankers will continue to meet with their customers as they do today.”

NAB last month announced its plans to close the last remaining bank branch in Waroona on November 17, forcing its customers in the town to travel to Mandurah or Bunbury for their banking needs.

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