Page 3669 - Week 09 - Tuesday, 23 August 2011

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The other issue is of course, as this will be a substantially bigger shopping centre than the one it replaced, what impact this is going to have on other local shops in the area. We do not want to see that Giralang gains a shopping centre at the expense of a surrounding suburb. That is not good policy.

I was disturbed that, in questions without notice earlier today, the minister said that in considering the impact of the potential new supermarket no account was taken of the ownership—whether or not it would be a major supermarket or one of the independents—because that clearly is one of the issues in terms of its effect on neighbouring shops. I would like to say very clearly that we are concerned that the government has not done sufficient work on the effect on neighbouring shops and on the effect on traffic.

Looking to an ACT-wide issue—in fact, probably an Australia-wide issue—the other issue that we are concerned about is the effect on the current supermarket duopoly of Woolworths and Coles. Woolworths and Coles we learned from the John Martin supermarket report currently have 72 per cent of the supermarket sales in the ACT. I do not know what the percentage is Australia-wide, although I do know that in the ACT it is higher than in other areas.

Everyone here is a believer in competition, but everyone here probably also did their economics 101. Duopoly is not competition. Duopoly leads to some anti-competitive effects. Someone will be suffering from it. It may well not be the consumers of Canberra, but it could well be the farmers of Australia, who are not always getting a fair price for their produce.

I think this is an important issue. The government did start work on a supermarket policy, but unfortunately it has not finished it. The previous Chief Minister talked about a floor space dominance test, but the government does not appear to have progressed this as yet.

I think that it is frustrating. It is particularly frustrating that the planning minister has called this in because it has a substantial public policy impact without, in fact, going to the significant public policy issue with supermarkets of retail competition and of the duopoly in the ACT. So I think that, as a call-in, this is very much an opportunity lost.

Again, I welcome a shopping centre in Giralang but I am disappointed at the opportunity lost to do better.

MR SESELJA (Molonglo—Leader of the Opposition), by leave: I think that where the planning minister has been brought to on this call-in power is part of a sorry saga that has been the Giralang development and the Giralang supermarket development. I think that the planning minister had no choice because of how heavily compromised this process has been by the ACT Labor government. By ministers and agencies acting on their behalf, this process became so compromised that there was little, if any, choice but for the minister to call this in.

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