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Acton Supermarket to close

By Maiy Azize - 23 October 2007 28

by Toby Halligan

The ANU Union Board has gotten into hot water over the past week after deciding to refuse a lease renewal for the Acton Supermarket without giving public reasons or announcing what would replace it.

Reports from inside the Board room suggest that a Sanity and clothes shop were among the mooted replacements. Suggestions of another supermarket were unpopular with ANU Union General Manager, Rod Thomas, who has long lamented the competition the Supermarket offers to the mostly Union owned outlets in the refectory. By disposing of the Supermarket the Union will exert much greater control over drinks pricing on campus but the impact on students has led to an unprecedented backlash against the student representatives on the Board.

At present the Supermarket offers the best prices on campus for a variety of goods. It has products that are sold no where else, especially food for those with allergies to wheat and other widely used products. It also serves to concentrate business AT the ANU, has now students will be forced to walk for 10 minutes to the City West IGA to get their food and drink.

The Board has behaved, the Union Board AGM was scheduled for the 23rd of October at 12pm, only to be moved, to avoid the Supermarket backlash, to the 26th of November (when most students are off campus or on holidays) ONLY to move it back again to the 23rd after an even bigger backlash at the shifted meeting. With an intransigent board, hostile general manager all we have right now is public support and the knowledge that this decision was clearly not made with regard to the needs and lifestyles of the ANU’s students.

This is one of the few cases where letters and the expression of dissent may have an impact on changing the decision. Any help people on the Riot Act can offer would be awesome, especially through letters to the Vice Chancellor of the ANU, Ian Chubb (email: We’re trying to pressure the students of the Board through petitions, no confidence motions and letters but the VC may be the our last port of call if we can’t get any love out of the Board members!

Please, help us keep our Supermarket!

What’s Your opinion?

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28 Responses to
Acton Supermarket to close
Sammy 11:29 am 23 Oct 07

Points of interest from aforementioned letter:

* The ANU Union will continue to provide supermarket services

* This service will provide everything that the current supermarket provides

* Prices will not increase

* Hours of operation will increase, with limited services on weekends (not currently provided)

* Range may be increased to include alcohol, fresh vegetables and fresh meat. A limited range of meat is currently available.

Sammy 11:26 am 23 Oct 07

The ANU Union board have (yesterday) released an open letter on this topic. It is available for download here.

danny 11:06 am 23 Oct 07

Yep I’d have to agree that the issue here is bigger than the supermarket. When I first went to ANU the refectory was a big self-serve sandwich/salad bar that subsidised costs making it affordable for students to grab a quick (and healthy) lunch. The union was all about serving its members.

Since then I’ve seen it gradually turn into a profit focussed monopoly (disguised by multiple outlets) with outrageous prices. As if the students didn’t have enough to worry about with the insane price of housing in this town.

I honestly feel sorry for the students of tomorrow. But in the end it is up to the students to stand up for themselves. In years gone by student action would have been much more vocal and would have included many more participants… it appears apathy or perhaps a feeling of ‘what can I do’ appears to be creeping into each successive generation.

Maiy Azize 10:57 am 23 Oct 07

In response to the first two comments, the supermarket you’re describing is the Acton Supermarket. It’s the only supermarket on campus at the moment.

I didn’t write this article, I submitted it on behalf of someone else, so I’d like to make a couple of other quick points

The market is supposed to thrive on demand and competition, and as consumers (and impoverished students) we’ve been pretty clearly expressing our preference for the Acton Supermarket throughout the years whenever we buy something there, hence its success.

If the Union really wants to compete, it should lower its prices in response to demand on campus. That would be the fairest way for the Union to win over consumers and promote a competitive marketplace on campus.

We all love the supermarket, but if we think long term for a minute, it is not in the interests of students to see a Union monopoly at the ANU.

Mr Evil 10:50 am 23 Oct 07

Stereo Henry, it’s not the fact the supermarket may close that is so bad, it’s the way the jerks in the Union have gone about it that rankles me.

ns 10:49 am 23 Oct 07

Rod Thomas has been hostile to the Supermarket for years. He’s never cared about student services and interests, and while that might be okay anywhere else, it’s not okay at the ANU Union which is partly funded by students and it supposed to serve student interests. I was at ANU 5 years ago and the Refectory prices were outrageous.

The problem is that Rod Thomas and the non-student Board members have the advantage of age and continuity and run rings around the student representatives (including the Chair). Practically every Board student representative I know used to tell me that John (the guy who owns the Supermarket) was the problem and not them or Rod Thomas. I always pointed out that the only thing that mattered was that the Supermarket offered choice and low prices and was better at serving student interests than the Refectory.

danny 10:45 am 23 Oct 07

That supermarket has the best range of caffinated/all-nighter beverages in Canberra. They were probably the first in Canberra to stock red-eye, redbull (in its can form, not the Thai medecine bottle form), etc. when they came out and they also keep a great range of mid-lecture snacks.

If this place shuts down the students will have to resort to shady transactions down at the uni bar in order to remain awake during classes.

stereo henry 10:43 am 23 Oct 07

ACtually Meconium, it does affect me… i just don’t give a shit. If you want lunch – pack it, if you want a drink – use a vending machine or drink from a tap… IGA’s not that far away that it makes any difference. As i said before: get over it.

Mr Evil 10:43 am 23 Oct 07

The ANU Union are a bunch of idiots! The prices charged at the Union-run places like Pajenkas, Degree and Asian Bistro are ridiculously inflated – especially considering the facilities are supposed to be run to offer students on a low budget a fair deal.

And to try and move the AGM to a date when most students will no longer be on campus must really rate as one of the lowest points in the Union Board’s history. I’m glad this has backfired on them, and I hope they get a right bollocking today.

If the Board succeeds in it’s plan to get rid of the Acton Supermarket, well they won’t be getting another cent out of me in the future.

boomacat 10:00 am 23 Oct 07

I love the Acton Supermarket

Meconium 9:21 am 23 Oct 07

You’re an idiot stereo henry. It obviously doesn’t affect you, so why did you feel the need to post here? Heaps of people use that supermarket to get lunch items so they don’t have to buy prepared food from the various food outlets.

I think it’s disappointing that they’re closing it – a convenience store is something that’s needed at a big uni like ANU.

Spectra 9:02 am 23 Oct 07

I does kind of suck – the supermarket was a great place to grab a drink or whatnot between lectures – a 20 minute round trip to avoid the limited range provided by the Union shops kind of makes that impractical. The issue seems to me to be that the Union is putting its profits and monopoly before the convenience of the students it’s supposed to service. (But of course I only know the side of the story being presented here).

stereo henry 8:27 am 23 Oct 07

Boo-bloody-hoo. So you have to walk an extra ten minutes… get over it.

niftydog 8:26 am 23 Oct 07

I’ve heard the one at Uni House is facing a similar fate but can’t find any confirmation.

el ......VNBerlinaV8 7:20 am 23 Oct 07

There’s a supermarket downstairs at University House.

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