Selling Coles to an overseas company will be a disaster for Australia
– we’ll be selling it way too cheaply and all of the wealth created by one
of the biggest retailers in Australia will go overseas.

But it’s also typical of Australian business today. Anything
that’s any good we sell off and all we are left with are the duds.

Overseas companies want to buy Coles because they know it’s
cheap and they know they can ruthlessly slash costs and staff numbers and then
sell it off to someone else. They’ll make a fortune out of it.

We will agree to sell it out of stupidity and short term
greed.

The shareholders will be happy because they will get a short
term gain and the average Australian punter won’t complain because they will
be sold on the fact that the price of the food will come down. As usual,
we will all react by going to the cheaper price.

But once you’ve sold something like Coles you can’t get it
back – and you will never be able to recreate it. And then, within a year,
Woolworths will probably go too. Meanwhile, all of the wealth created by the
businesses goes overseas.

It’s sheer stupidity. But you need leadership to explain
this to people, and that’s what we don’t have.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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