Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1996 Week 8 Hansard (25 June) . . Page.. 2080 ..
MR HUMPHRIES (continuing):
The institute allegations of 306 job losses as a result of the legislation sounded hollow when put beside the more than 1,000 jobs that have gone in small businesses since the ACT Trading Hours Act began to be widely disregarded in 1992.
I do not think you need retail studies to be able to prove that local centres in this city are suffering badly. This Government does not need to be goaded further by the reality of those centres being in trouble to act on that question. Clearly, we have taken a bigger step than any previous government has taken. Clearly, those opposite have not got the guts to admit that they were going to abandon those small centres to their fate and do the bidding of their big business friends in Sydney and Melbourne. We are not prepared to take that kind of cavalier approach towards the local businesses of this town and, Mr Speaker, we stand proudly behind our policy.
MS HORODNY: My question is directed to the Minister for the Environment, Land and Planning, Mr Humphries, and relates to the increasing concentration of ownership in the ACT retail market, where Woolworths, Coles and Franklins now control 75 per cent of retail turnover in the ACT after Woolworths' recent takeover of seven Cannons supermarkets. I am particularly concerned about the Mawson shops, where the Cannons supermarket was closed down because there is already a Woolworths supermarket there. Could you tell me, Minister, whether any staff retained their jobs when Woolworths bought out Cannons supermarket at Mawson and closed that supermarket?
MR HUMPHRIES: The information that Ms Horodny requires, ironically, comes to me via the Australian Institute of Supermarkets. Nonetheless, although I would not quote much else they said, I would certainly quote this on this occasion, because I have no reason to believe it is not true. The institute apparently has advised that all Cannons staff were retained at existing stores - there might have been other stores but this was certainly at Cannons stores - when Woolworths bought out Cannons Supermarkets. I make no secret of the fact that I was deeply unhappy with the fact that Woolworths did buy out Cannons. I think it is good in any retail market to have a range of players. Cannons was a major local player in the marketplace. Even if you think Woolworths or Coles or whatever is the bee's knees in terms of retailing, it is good to have somebody else of roughly the same size in the marketplace providing competition. I am unhappy about that fact. Mr Speaker, there are limits to how much government can do to prevent those kinds of monopolising trends in the marketplace.
MS HORODNY: I ask a supplementary question. Mr Humphries, do you know how many jobs have been lost from the reported closure of about 14 other ACT supermarkets in the last 18 months?