Page 4418 - Week 12 - Wednesday, 14 October 2009

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The Martin Report does not expressly acknowledge that independently-owned grocery businesses other than Supabarn are eligible for the new land tenders.

Again, we wait for the detail. He goes on:

If my business is banned from future land tenders as is suggested by the Martin report, that is unfair. I am an independent businessman no different in any way at all to the Koundouris Group who own the Supabarn chain. We both source from Metcash, which gives us the buying power to compete with the dominant national chain. I should be treated the same as any other independent supermarket owners when it comes to growing my business and building new stores. I am concerned that the eligibility criteria being developed for land tenders will be used to exclude me from the process. I want to be able to tender for new land releases. I will bring more competive tension to the ACT supermarket sector.

So there is the question: on what reasonable grounds will this individual and others who currently operate in the ACT, and do so successfully, who provide viable alternatives to some of the bigger supermarkets and who want to grow the business so that they can ultimately perhaps reach that full-line status, be excluded now?

Why would we exclude any local businessmen? I have a great deal of respect for the Supabarn group; they have done extraordinarily well in standing up to the pressures that Coles and Woolworths can bring to bear and the competition that Aldi brings to the market, and I wish them every success. But I also wish success to all other businesspeople in the ACT who would like to get into the market, stay in the market and, as this gentleman says, provide the competitive tension to ensure that we do remain competitive in terms of both price and non-price measures in the ACT so that shoppers get the best deals that they can.

MS PORTER (Ginninderra) (11.19), in reply: I thank members for their support and their contributions to the debate. I note that Ms Le Couteur and Mr Stanhope dwelt on the way supermarkets and shopping centres in the ACT have developed uniquely and also dwelt on the history that has influenced the way that they have developed. As both Ms Le Couteur and Mr Stanhope said, we need to respond to the way we live, the way we engage in work and who in the family is in the paid workforce. Now, it is most likely that both husband and wife, or both partners, will be in the paid workforce. Other issues are where we spend our leisure time, how we travel to work and how we travel back from work.

Mr Smyth talked about people having personal preferences and wanting to choose where they shop. I would repeat that the ACCC inquiry considered that Australian consumers would significantly benefit if Coles and Woolworths faced more competition that encouraged more aggressive pricing strategies. The ACCC recommended action to lower barriers to entry and expansion of both retailing and wholesaling to independent supermarkets and potential new entrants. The ACCC considered more regard should be had to competition issues in considering zoning or planning proposals. I again quote the specific recommendation of the report in this respect:

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