Our Chiefly Leader (wearing his “Minister for Business and Economic Development” hat) has put out a press release announcing the release of the outcomes of the Governments review into supermarket competition policy – A review prompted by the desire to achieve greater competition and diversity in Canberra’s retail grocery sector.
Those with memories longer than a goldfishes will no doubt recall that this review was a response to the July 2008 ACCC Inquiry into retail grocery prices, which, amongst other things, recommended that State and Territory governments leave no stone unturned in pursuit of improved competition in the grocery sector – even if that meant fiddling with zoning and planning laws.
The Australian on-line has taken a more alarmist view claiming that His Chieflyness wants to ban Woolworths, Coles and IGA from bidding on new supermarket sites and is going as far as to suggest that our local response puts us at odds with the Federal Labor party, whose policy response to date has been to encourage greater flexibility in leasing arrangements at malls and removing the opportunity for the big players to veto new tenants who are competitors.
So there’s a couple of issues there just straight off the bat – The dead hand of Government regulation and market intervention, of course – but if the really big players are out of the race before the stewards have set the barrier who else is there? Superbarn will be an obvious beneficiary, but is there room for a plethora of small business operators in the very big business of family groceries?