Saturday, July 18, 2009

Hatred of Australia's big-two supermarkets

This is very reminiscent of the hatred that Leftists direct at Wal-Mart in America. Success is hated. And there is absolutely no substance in what they say below. There are smaller supermarket chains with different business models such as IGA (stressing convenience) and Aldi (stressing ultra-low prices) and there is nothing stopping anyone who wants to shop at one of those. They all have plenty of outlets. People go to Woolworths because they like the Woolworths model (lots of choice) and they obviously are prepared to pay for that. "Choice" just ASSUMES that price is all that matters. If that were so, everyone would be going to Aldi.

Note: "Choice" is similar to Britain's "Which". It is a consumer reports organization but has recently come under heavy Leftist influence: Another example of the Gramscian "long march"

AUSTRALIA has the highest grocery inflation in the Western world and our powerful supermarket duopoly has a big role to play, experts warn. Commanding up to 80 per cent of the nation's $90 billion grocery market and a large percentage of the fuel market, Coles and Woolworths have little incentive to discount, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission says.

The stranglehold on the market came under fire this week when Coles announced a food-for-fuel promotion requiring customers to spend $300 on food to get a 40c per litre discount of fuel. Woolworths matched the offer within hours, The Courier-Mail reports. Independent petrol station owners claimed the move was designed to squeeze out the competition. The number of independent fuel stations has plummeted from 7000 to 5500 in five years. [It has been shrinking for decades]

Christopher Zinn, the spokesman for consumer group Choice, said petrol discounts shouldn't be taken at face value. "You always have to consider how the supermarkets subsidise this - they aren't giving things away out of the kindness of their hearts, you usually pay to make up for your savings elsewhere," Mr Zinn said.

At the end of last year the ACCC released its Grocery Inquiry, which concluded there were insufficient incentives for Coles and Woolworths to truly discount. The report also noted that Australia had the highest rate of grocery inflation of all OECD countries. The report said if one of the big players discounted, the other matched it quickly, meaning there was no good chance for either to win new customers from the discounting effort.

The Retailers Association national executive director Scott Driscoll said the retail war was not between Coles and Woolworths - it was "the big two versus everyone else". "There are no other developed countries in the world where two big players control the market to the extent these two do," Mr Driscoll said.

But Monash University's Australian Centre for Retail Studies program director Steve Ogden-Barnes said Coles and Woolworths were competing like never before, to the advantage of consumers. The expansion of ALDI had offered a sizeable alternative to the big names and enhanced competition. "We have seen the quality of robust competition in the marketplace improve to a quality we haven't seen in a long time," Mr Ogden-Barnes said. "Coles and Woolworths are responding to that and I think they are in a very public battle for their market share."

But he said the duopoly was here to stay and he urged consumers to make it "work for them" by studying catalogues and shopping around. "Put aside your loyalty and capitalise on the competitive environment," he said.


Queensland police are debating whether the length of a cab-driver's socks is really an issue that they should be concentrating on

Given their almost complete lack of interest in car-theft and such things, re-examination of their priorities is long overdue

A shocked Brisbane taxi driver who was fined $100 by police for not pulling up his socks may have the extraordinary penalty withdrawn. The Queensland Police Service told The Courier-Mail "a decision will be made as to whether to withdraw (the fine)" once all facts surrounding the incident were known.

To date, the QPS has refused to answer queries about its power to enforce a fine for wearing short socks, nor its opinion of the male traffic officer involved, saying: "It would appear that the officer . . . issued (the fine) under the provisions of Section 131 of the Transport Operations (Passenger Transport) Regulations 2005 relating to the appropriate dress code for taxi drivers." But the legislation does not stipulate that short socks are banned. Instead, it merely states: "The driver of a public passenger vehicle must, while driving the vehicle, be neatly dressed."

In June, part-time Yellow Cabs driver Kidd Moors was arguing with an officer about a seatbelt compliance issue on the side of the road at Hendra before the policeman wrote him a ticket that stated: "Failed to dress neatly . . . WHT/runners, short running socks".

The incident sparked claims of "payback" and "an abuse of power" from the Cab Drivers Association of Queensland.


Retrograde pay laws bad for employment and prices

PROPOSED changes to retail employees' penalty rates are "barbaric" and will lead to higher unemployment and inflation, Myer chief executive Bernie Brookes has warned. Mr Brookes said changes to the sector's award system, to be introduced in January next year, were an "enormous obstacle" for retailers, the Herald Sun reports.

He said most major retailers, including Myer, had enterprise bargaining agreements with staff which were formed in a "fair and equitable negotiation process in a laissez faire economy". "They are agreements that have been made within the law and are fair for both the employer and the employee," he said. "The dilemma going forward is if the Government resets the penalty rates regime for Saturday and Sunday then the impact of that is going to be a fracturing of EBAs for retailers and the fracturing of what will obviously be the dynamics of the cost model of the retailer."

Mr Brookes said full-time jobs would be lost as a result of the IR legislation and increased costs would be passed on to consumers. "The government is going to cause inflation by raising the rates at which we have to pay casual and part-time staff on Saturdays and Sundays," he said. "It is a move to some of the barbaric and adversarial union-employer relationships that we used to have, that I don't think we have a need to return to or we can afford to return to."

The "modern award" program advocated by the Rudd government was a key plank of its pre-election platform, promising to roll back John Howard's Workchoices. As part of the new system, the Industrial Relations Commission has outlined 11 streamlined award categories which will oblige the retail sector to pay double time on Sundays.

Mr Brookes said the IR changes were the biggest challenge for the company and that the worst of the economic downturn had passed.


Only a government could be this stupid, wasteful and inefficient

Important and expensive high tech equipment that a public hospital bought 8 YEARS ago still not in use

TAXPAYERS are forking out $1 million a year to treat patients privately while medical equipment worth $3 million sits idle in a public hospital. Health Minister Paul Lucas yesterday admitted cancer sufferers were waiting for treatment after delays in commissioning a hyperbaric chamber at Royal Brisbane and Women's Hospital. The facility, dubbed ''one of the world's biggest and best'', was built for $2.8 million in 2001 and there were promises it would be operating 18 months ago. But the pressure chamber continues to sit idle while patients use a similar unit at the nearby Wesley Private Hospital.

Hyperbaric chambers - like decompression chambers used to treat divers with the bends - are used to treat people with chronic illness, particularly when they have wounds that are difficult to heal.

The revelations came as Mr Lucas promised to release radiation therapy waiting lists for the first time after years of secrecy from Queensland Health. Mr Lucas yesterday insisted using the Wesley chamber was more economical than running the RBWH facility at half capacity, but he would not release all the figures to back it up. Queensland Health figures show the RBWH chamber would cost $1.5 million a year to perform 6600 treatments. Taxpayers spent $877,513 on treatments at the Wesley during 2007-08 and $1.2 million the previous year.

Mr Lucas defended the chamber's lack of use, saying it was built as part of good future planning and would be commissioned within a year. But he refused to reveal how many patients were waiting to be treated.

However, Opposition health spokesman Mark McArdle, who questioned Mr Lucas during the Budget Estimates hearings, said the lack of use was ridiculous. ''Why isn't operating?'' Mr McArdle demanded. ''It is simply negligent not to have this operating right now. It should have been commissioned when the thing was put in. ``Why aren't we using it so that people can have a better life and a better quality life?''


Fear of social worker terrorists

Cases where children are in REAL danger are "too hard" for most social workers so they concentrate on harassing middle class parents over minor infractions. So the woman below had grounds for her fears

THE family car has never been more sinister. Until the first baby expired from organ shutdown after being left to bake in a hot car, who knew such a thing could happen? Until gamblers without babysitters started leaving their children in carparks so they could play poker machines, who knew such neglect was taking place?

Back in the innocent Australia of the 1970s, the family car was considered an extension of the living room. As kids we played in them, made cubbies in them, slept in them and, yes, waited patiently for our parents in them. The car was a happy place, roads were quieter and the term "road rage" had not been coined. Not only were you not constrained by law to wear seatbelts during travel, kids frequently drove for long hauls while lying flat along the back parcel tray of the Holden HR, admiring the skyview through miniature venetian blinds.

If Dad hit the brakes, the fun increased as you tumbled from your makeshift perch and on to the backseat. And if your parents hopped out of the car to get supplies, we waited in the car, sometimes for hours, for them. In fact this writer has been known to joke that, for a time, she was a carpark orphan.

After playing 18 holes of golf with me along as their disinterested caddy, my parents would head into the golf club with their friends for refreshments and maybe to put a few dollars into the poker machines. After about 10 minutes, out my father would come with a KitKat and a packet of Smith's chips to pacify me as I waited alone, in the car, while they socialised with their mates. It wasn't against the law for me to be there. It was against the law for me to be inside the clubhouse.

Now a mother myself, I too feel the urge to just leave the kids in the car for a sec when I run in to post a letter, pay a bill, grab some milk or pay for petrol. This apparently makes me a bad mother - something I felt all too keenly when I left my unwell, sleeping child in the car while I dashed through rain into a bakery to order a christening cake.

When I returned there was a man taking down my number plate number and abusing me. Frightened I might never see my daughter again, I thanked him "for caring", dashed home and burst into tears as I waited for DOCs [the notorious NSW child welfare agency] to call.


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