October 18th 2003

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Articles from this issue:

COVER STORY: ENVIRONMENT: Don't spoil a good story with the facts ...

CANBERRA OBSERVED: Reshuffling the decks

AGRICULTURE: Unrestricted water trading a danger to farmers

FEDERAL ELECTION: Deregulation, drought, the dollar and the $7.5 billion surplus

FAMILY: AFA Conference calls for strengthening of marriage law

COMMENT: Poor always the losers in a middle class game

LETTERS: WA capitulates on Competition Policy (letter)

LETTERS: Taiwan and the UN (letter)

LETTERS: First Mildura Irrigation Trust (letter)

LETTERS: Rural economy (letter)

LETTERS: The future of rail (letter)

TAIWAN: Making strides in biotech

STRAWS IN THE WIND: Flying down to Rio / Shooting stars and black holes / Digging holes and filling them up again

RELIGIOUS AFFAIRS: Dr Pell's new appointment welcomed

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WA capitulates on Competition Policy (letter)

by Pietro Giuliano

News Weekly, October 18, 2003

Richard Egan's (NW, September 20) commentary that the Western Australian Government was holding the line against National Competition Policy was a week premature.

Despite assurances by the WA Liquor Minister, Nick Griffiths, that it would not surrender to the National Competition Policy on liquor matters - "Labor's election promise was to oppose deregulation of the liquor industry..." (Media Release, October 12, 2001) - the Minister has acquiesced to Canberra.

The potential loss of millions of National Competition dollars was too much for the WA Government, and Mr Griffiths has announced deregulation of the liquor industry and foreshadowed Sunday trading for off-premise bottle shops in the State:

"The changes are necessary to comply with the National Competition Agreement entered into on behalf of the State by the Court Liberal Government."

While blaming the Court Government for its unfortunate situation, WA will follow other states to the trough and deregulate.

WA will collect annually millions of National Competition dollars, while devaluing the worth and profitability of small independent bottleshops. It will foist on all independent small liquor businesses an added impost of Sunday trading, to the cheers of the two major chains.

Both the Government and the chains reap a windfall and all for nothing.

Deregulation of the off-premises liquor industry in Victoria allowed the same chains to gobble up small independent liquor retailers in regional areas; but in that state the chains encountered organised small business bottleshop owners and were forced by parliament to pay above-market value on purchasing pre-existing licensed businesses.

Oh the agony of the chains' humiliation.

In South Australia, the chains dominate the packaged liquor industry with only 18 independent liquor retailers remaining in Adelaide.

In Queensland, the sham that was a National Competition Review saw the chains, disguised as hotels, benefit by the total exclusion of independents from off-premises liquor retailing in that market.

Deregulation, Australian style, is proving to be the greatest growth potential for the already dominant chains since the days of gunboat diplomacy.

Pietro Giuliano
Victoria Park, WA

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