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The Forum > Article Comments > Woolworths: the farmerís friend! > Comments

Woolworths: the farmerís friend! : Comments

By Alan Matheson, published 19/1/2007

Corporations like Woolworths, rarely wake up one morning, and decide it would be a good idea to dump a dayís profits into the bank accounts of organisations like the CWA.

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If you google Roger Corbett Mr Woolworths ABC you will come across a Sunday profile interview with him, that was held last year.

In this interview, he admits that if there was demand for it and it was legal, he would be quite content to sell guns in Woolworths.

In the same interview, he says that in many of the establishments they had purchased, they had phased out sexual overtones, such as topless barmaids.

He has left Woolworths now, to become a board member of Wal Mart - the world's largest corporation. In the ABC interview, he admits to admiring Wal Mart, and adopting their methods.

Wal Mart have become famed for undercutting their employees, and having a zero tolerance approach to unions. Those who talk about forming unions have been sacked.
One store was even shut down when it looked like a union might form.

This idea of giving farmers a day's profit is of course, laudable. But doesn't the fact that this company, which has made life so tough for farmers, can afford to just give away that much money, indicate that they are making a profit at the direct expense of their suppliers - suppliers who they now give charity to?
Posted by TurnRightThenLeft, Friday, 19 January 2007 9:27:30 AM
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I welcome the questioning of the motives of Woolworths, in light of the tactics that the supermarkets employ in driving down the prices that the farmers receive, particularly fresh produce farmers who have little choice but to accept the price that they are offered.

However, dont use this as an excuse to boycott Woolworths on its "farmers day" on 23 January. Whilst the offer it is making doesnt excuse its market behaviour, what it is offering is better than nothing. One can only hope that Coles will feel compelled to follow suit with a similar offering.

Please also be careful not to mislead the public with your references to the CWA being propped up by government support - drought aid. This money has not gone to CWA coffers, it has been given to them to administer the provision of support for basic household bills for farming families. This is being decently administered and mostly is being received by those in genuine need (as with any hand-out, there are some that manage to get their hands on it that dont truly deserve it, but dont let this detract from the thousands of families that are worthy of help).

The drought and the devestating impact that it is having on farms, businesses and families has mostly dropped out of the news. Just because we are not hearing so much about it, doesnt mean that it is not happening. In some areas of NSW, Christmas saw the 5th poor year in a row, which was a devestating blow, both financially and emotionally.
Posted by Country Gal, Friday, 19 January 2007 9:34:18 AM
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Mr Corbett's business CV was no doubt written by himself. I can distinctly remember Mr Corbett promising cheap petrol but it never happened. The measure of Mr Corbett's success should not be gauged by 'best practice' modules and happy smiling staff. Mr Corbett can only boast success at the helm of Woolworths if he introduced the shopping cart that followed the shopper's commands. I have yet to encounter a shopping cart that goes where you want it to.

Showering money on our country friends will not buy you a good reputation. Mr Corbett, I give you an 'F'.
Posted by Sage, Friday, 19 January 2007 9:55:01 AM
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The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away.

Blessed be the name of the Lord.
Posted by VK3AUU, Friday, 19 January 2007 10:04:10 AM
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It is not widely understood that the big chain's market dominance has been handed to them on a platter by our own government planners. We have one of the most urbanised populations in the developed world as each state has attempted to pursue the development objectives of a unitary state. So each government has concentrated growth, jobs and capital in each state capital.

This lack of even distribution in growth has ensured that new housing has not taken the form of one new street on the edges of a few hundred towns but, rather, entire new suburbs on greenfield sites on the edge of the metropolis.

This made the planners and politicians happy because they could have lots of grand openings and photo ops of big ticket infrastructure. It made them feel important and appear to be doing their job.

The problem was that only the large chains could realistically get access to the decision making processes and capital needed to build the new shopping centres. In fact, it gave them such control over the developments that they were effectively being subsidised by the rents paid by the small players.

This has meant that the only places the major chains are not dominant is in the small country towns where there is no opportunity for some new mega-mall to capture the existing customer base of the local traders.

The only way to fix this problem, short of anti-trust break up of the majors, is to decentralise government and the economic growth that follows so a higher proportion of growth is of an incremental nature that existing traders can service.

We are already paying for our failure to devolve state powers to regional governments. How bad does it need to get before we act?
Posted by Perseus, Friday, 19 January 2007 3:12:29 PM
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There is an easy way for State and local governments to overtake the Federal Government's sell-out.

We have to discourage customers from this "one-stop" form of shopping, owned by the same huge company.

There is little we can do with business deregulation and so many free trade deals.

More Independents should run for the next Federal Parliament thinking of their own people's wellbeing.

One thing legislatures can do, without crossing business deals and FTAs, is ban the car parks. They are bad for Co2 emissions anyway.

Yeah, I lived in Dallas once and saw Wal Mart. You can buy semi automatic guns there easy. No questions asked. You can also get prescriptions there. Junkies delight, no questions asked.

Not many Chemist shops in Texas either. That will be next: they'll deregulate prescription standards, Woolworths and Wal Mart (Australia) will have the lot.

Where does that leave small business?

We can of course be mindful that the Americans are very unhappy with their situation. It is not that difficult to stop this "one stop" shopping thing. Block supply to the customer and and the demand goes due to inconvenience.

No one would go the the big supermarket chains if they can't park their cars. In this day and age, we should be all catching buses and trains anyway.

Before you know it, there will be a demand for smaller green grocers again because they are closer to home, as the other places no longer have parking. We could have our villages back, and when you shop, people may even remember your name.
Posted by saintfletcher, Friday, 19 January 2007 4:02:46 PM
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