The conservative folk of beautiful Maleny
in Queensland’s Sunshine Coast hinterland continue to fight a rearguard action against the
Woolworths retail giant (yesterday, item 8), trying to preserve the village atmosphere, the small
shops and forcing everyone without transport to pay more for their groceries.

It’s a battle that has stretched as far as
Woolies’s AGM
and has even drawn head counterjumper Roger Corbett close to the frontline on
occasion. It’s been to no avail, but the Blackall Range folk
haven’t surrendered. They claim to have raised $2 million to buy the site back
from Woolworths, but Roger wouldn’t sell. And one gentle militant writes:

The Maleny community have been sending thousands
(over 60,000 so far I think, if not more) of envelopes to the Woolworths
feedback reply-paid address, which both costs Woolies the postage and a few
cents and makes a statement that this community will not give up.

Apparently Woolworths has now put a stop on any
reply-paid envelopes from the postcodes around Maleny and the Sunshine

The unpalatable
reality, though, is that the Maleny anti-progress people are just as
anti-competition as Woolworths. If the locals want to preserve small business
against the giants, they can vote with their wallets every time they go
shopping without depriving others of choice.

The sadly missed
opportunity is that Woolworths is incapable of delivering a model that fits in
with the atmosphere of a place like Maleny, instead of just bulldozing its
self-interest ahead. A certain lack of soul would fit in with the ethical
character flaws of the company evident in its own anti-competitive behaviour.

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey