Something strange is happening here.
The normal rules of competition and commerce don’t seem to apply to doing business in Canberra.
For example, a well-known, central, long-running supermarket close to my home has, since I’ve been here (about 2 years), routinely sold goods that are overpriced and often past their use-by dates, and sometimes just plain off. When I went out for breakfast this morning in Kingston, I found popular cafes closed on a busy morning when it was hard to get a table anywhere. Late at night, even major fast food chains are closed, whereas in any other city in this country they would be open.
And most amusingly, food is bad and overpriced, and service is often terrible. Yet businesses that consistently open “when they feel like it” as opposed to when there are customers, or charge silly prices, or treat customers badly, continue to thrive and prosper for many years in Canberra, whereas in any other city they would fail immediately. Elsewhere, it seems, businesses are subject to normal laws of competition, and if service is poor or prices laughable, a competitor starts up. Here, nothing happens. Business as usual in Canberra. Nobody even seems to notice.
You can’t vote with your feet if there are limited or non-existent alternatives.
Now I know this city has unique challenges, but doesn’t the ACT government have people who are paid to ensure that local commerce is lively, and that a market, particularly for services, operates and thrives? An important part of this is regulation and licensing, and maybe these well paid ACT public servants should pay attention to striking the right balance, to allow competition to thrive, and to encourage new businesses.
Perhaps it’s time to go back to the drawing board with business regulation and licensing laws in the ACT, to bring this city into line with the rest of the modern world.