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Mullumbimby acts to stop Woolies coming to to -

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Mullumbimby acts to stop Woolies coming to town

Meredith Griffiths reported this story on Monday, February 15, 2010 12:38:00

ELEANOR HALL: Woolworths is again facing opposition from a small community that doesn't want the
supermarket in its town. Residents of Mullumbimby in the far north of New South Wales have taken
out a half-page advertisement in a national newspaper to warn that the company poses a threat to
their town's identity.

But veterans of previous campaigns against the supermarket chain say they doubt this protest will
have any effect.

Meredith Griffiths reports.

MEREDITH GRIFFITHS: Situated in the lush hinterland of far north New South Wales, Mullumbimby is a
popular destination for people wanting to get away from an urban way of life.

Tricia Shantz says the town is proud of its self-sufficiency.

TRICIA SHANTZ: It doesn't have any chain stores at this stage. Everyone who's behind say the
newsagents or the butcher, they actually own the shop and when you buy from them, they actually
they live there and they sell to you and it is local produce.

MEREDITH GRIFFITHS: She is the Secretary of the Mullumbimby Forum. It has taken out a half-page ad
in The Financial Review today and written 1000 letters to Woolworth's executives, asking the
supermarket chain not to move into Mullumbimby.

TRICIA SHANTZ: A large supermarket with the size that it is proposed, located on the outskirts of
the town, not on the main street so it will fragment that CBD shopping situation, the research
within Australia, but in the United Kingdom and the US as well, is that people do their one-stop
shopping so for instance rather than go and buy their paper from a newsagents or go down to the
shops to the local fruit and veg. So the studies in the UK and the US show that for every job that
is actually created, you lose one and a half within the local sector.

MEREDITH GRIFFITHS: Tricia Shantz says that a recent survey found that the majority of residents
are opposed to the supermarket development.

But that's disputed by Andrew Hall, who is the company's director of corporate and public affairs
at Woolworths.

ANDREW HALL: We did research on demand for a supermarket in Mullumbimby and the region around it.
We found there was very strong demand in that area and we also checked as to whether the state
planning authorities considered Mullumbimby as a town that was right for a supermarket and in fact,
it was designated as a town categorised for major growth by the New South Wales Planning and its
Far North Coast regional strategy.

MEREDITH GRIFFITHS: The land being developed by Woolworths was originally owned by the company that
run Mullumbimby's existing supermarket. Its staff have previously marched in support of the
Woolworths development and the owner John Waterhouse says most Mullumbimby residents want a better
supermarket.

Still, Andrew Hall says Woolworths is taking the community unease seriously

ANDREW HALL: So we've been trying to respond to their concerns by making sure that our development
meets the highest environment standards, that its design fits in with the local community.

MEREDITH GRIFFITHS: In 2007, residents of Maleny in Queensland ran a similar campaign to try to
keep Woolworths out. It failed. One of those activists, Michael Berry, says Woolworths didn't care
about the bad publicity generated by his campaign

MICHAEL BERRY: I would say to Mullumbimby that the only thing that will stop Woolworths is the law
and if they have still got rights of appeal through the Land and Environment Court, then that is
what they need to do first and foremost because Woolworths will not be stopped.

MEREDITH GRIFFITHS: Associate Professor Frank Zumbo specialises in competition and consumer law at
the University of New South Wales. He agrees that Woolworths and Coles do everything in their power
to set up stores in new areas

FRANK ZUMBO: They will take on the local council at every twist and turn and they will appeal
through the courts if they need to. So in the past have been successful through sheer
determination,

MEREDITH GRIFFITHS: Associate Professor Zumbo doesn't know of any cases where residents have
successfully stopped a supermarket being built. He says consumers should vote with their feet, but
is sceptical about whether that would drive Woolworths out of town.

In addition to today's ad, a separate group of Mullumbimby residents are opposing the Woolworths
development in the state's Land and Environment Court.

ELEANOR HALL: That report from Meredith Griffiths.