Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2004 Week 2 Hansard (4 March) . . Page.. 729..
MR HARGREAVES (continuing):
I am aware, it has not been concluded yet and there is some discussion about that in this report. The committee talked about land use policy; it did not talk about an Aldi supermarket. I just wanted to make that point. I commend the report to the Assembly.
MR STEFANIAK (11.51): I was briefly on this committee and it was quite interesting. I have not been on a planning committee for a long, long time. It was a very interesting inquiry and I came into it very late. I thank my colleagues for the diligence they brought to it, together with the committee secretary.
It is always very contentious balancing the needs of the community, the needs of business, principles such as the market, competitive forces, and planning issues. All of those factors were relevant to this matter.
I think there is a very significant need in the Canberra region for commercial organisations such as Aldi. Many in the community have a strong desire for competition in prices, to get the best possible deal and to have choice. The Aldi supermarkets are very different. The committee said, "Let's talk about different types of businesses rather than a particular business by name,"but an organisation such as Aldi, or anything similar to it, is a cut-price supermarket. It can do that by carrying a fairly small range of goods. I think Aldi has about 800 different items compared with Coles or Woolies, which have thousands and thousands of items.
Mrs Cross: Eighteen thousand.
MR STEFANIAK: Eighteen thousand, 13,000-yes, I have seen some of those figures. They carry a hell of a lot more than a place like Aldi. That does enable a supermarket of the Aldi type to have very competitive prices.
A number of people in our town have told me often that they like the idea of the best possible deal, of businesses being competitive. Some businesses become very worried if a competitor moves in right next door to them. They say, "Government policy is effectively making my job harder. I am simply going to go broke. I really cannot compete."There is only a limited market, a limited number of people who will patronise all these businesses. We see it on a weekly or monthly basis-various businesses go broke.
Obviously, if a business gets a niche market it will do very well. We have seen this in some of our centres around town. I can remember a similar argument when we were looking at restricting trading hours. We did restrict trading hours for the major group centres back in the late 1980s, a move that was designed to save the smaller suburban centres and one of which I was very supportive. It was interesting that, after a year, the patronage at those small suburban centres had only increased by about 6 per cent, and that the restriction on trading hours really at the big centres had not made a huge difference. People adjusted the times at which they went there, but the benefit expected to flow from that type of regulation to the smaller centres did not really flow through. People basically voted with their feet.
The question of how best we balance all those contending issues in relation to competition, the market and choice is always very vexed. My party is very much in