Page 49 - Week 01 - Tuesday, 14 February 2012

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MR COE: Has anyone from your office had any conversation with the Prime Minister’s office or with anybody else in the federal parliamentary offices about the event which occurred on Australia Day, since the event?

DR BOURKE: I refer to my previous answers.

Supermarkets—competition policy

MS LE COUTEUR: My question is to the Minister for Economic Development and is in regard to supermarket space in Canberra. We have heard over the last year about the continuing dive in retail figures in the ACT, and I understand that sales figures are down for all supermarkets in the ACT, the large chains and independents alike, and that sales are at their lowest level since 1984 in real per capita terms. Minister, given this, what economic impact assessment is the government undertaking to ensure that there is sufficient demand for the number of new supermarkets which are being planned for group centres in Canberra?

MR BARR: As the member would be aware, there has been an ongoing policy debate in the territory in relation to supermarket competition policy. I am advised that the formula to assess demand for new supermarket floor space within the Environment and Sustainable Development Directorate is 0.4 of a square metre per capita. Existing floor space within the north Canberra area, where I have recently made an announcement for two new supermarkets—and this area in north Canberra includes Civic and all local centres—amounts to 14,187 square metres. On the basis of population projections, there will be 55,000 residents in north Canberra by 2021. Using the ESDD formula, demand for supermarket floor space is estimated to grow to 22,000 square metres within the next nine years, an increase on the current level of about 8,000 square metres. The proposal that has been announced by the government is for an additional 4,900 square metres in anticipation of this future demand for 8,000 square metres.

MR SPEAKER: Ms Le Couteur, a supplementary question.

MS LE COUTEUR: First, minister, could I please ask you to table what looks like a document with a lot of useful figures in it. Secondly, my question is: what economic impact assessment was undertaken for the proposal, as you mentioned, for the two new supermarkets in Dickson and what comparison was done with the impact of only one additional supermarket and the impacts on the Watson and Hackett local centres?

Mr Hargreaves: On a point of order, Mr Speaker, I just want a little bit of guidance. I noticed that we are having a select committee inquiry into supermarkets and policy competition. I am a little confused as to whether we are getting a little bit close to that particular consideration, and we should not stay there if it is getting close.

MR SPEAKER: Thank you for reminding me of the committee, Mr Hargreaves. I will keep it in mind. I think Ms Le Couteur’s question is in order at this point, given the recent announcements, but your point I will keep an eye on.

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