Page 3550 - Week 08 - Friday, 24 August 2012

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recommended that the territory plan be revised to specify gross floor area limits for supermarkets in local centres. It may surprise people to know that, in fact, there are no actual GFA limits for supermarkets in local centres or other centres. We thought the GFA limits needed to be made individually rather than on a blanket basis, because Canberra has evolved.

The suburbs as they were designed way back in the 1950s are quite different from the suburbs that are being designed now. A GFA limit that makes sense for an older suburb is not necessarily going to make sense for a newer suburb and vice versa. A lot depends, clearly, on the population, the retail catchment area and also how far it is from one shopping centre to another shopping centre. We felt a one-size-fits-all GFA would not work but that there was a need for a size to be determined.

We also noted the considerable commentary about what exactly was included in gross floor areas for supermarkets. We recommended that this be looked at so that an exact definition is determined. We felt this definition should basically be looking at areas that are accessible to the consumer and not the auxiliary backroom areas, which are less important.

We also considered small business impact statements, and we recommended that these be extended. Small business impact statements should be undertaken for the geographic area which would be affected by any supermarket proposal. Such a small business impact statement should be paid for by the proponent but done independently, commissioned by ACTPLA, and it should be open for public comment.

We then looked at competition issues. The committee noted that the federal government has, under our constitution, carriage of competition issues. While the territory government has the levers of the territory plan and direct sale, these are not always the most appropriate levers. Recommendation 14 is that the ACT government should request the ACCC to consider acting to limit market share held in the ACT by the major supermarket operators and act similarly to limit the market share held by major supermarket operators in the ACT retail petrol market.

As I said, we recognised the ACT cannot do this job by itself and that it needs to be part of a federal solution. This is an Australia-wide issue. Anyone who reads the paper would see there is a discussion about the supermarket duopoly virtually every week and that we need an Australia-wide solution.

Going back to the days of the Martin report, there was a lot of discussion about wholesale competition. This discussion seems to have gone off the rails. We recommended that the ACT government provide an update on the situation as far as the introduction of additional wholesale facilities in the ACT are concerned.

We also looked a little bit at the role of shopping centres in the ACT, and we felt that it was important that we look at ease of access to supermarkets for people with mobility issues. We did not mean just people in wheelchairs or on walking frames but people who, for whatever reason, either choose not to drive or are not able to drive. We were talking about the whole gamut of mobility issues.

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