This town is just NOT going to let ‘financial power’ win
Where is Maleny & why is it significant?
Maleny, population 4000, an hour’s drive north of Brisbane, is a small hinterland community on the Sunshine Coast. Many think of it as the ‘cooperative capital’ of Australia. It has an amazing list of cooperatives and interdependent community organisations. A recent study has looked at how social capital had developed as a result and found that Maleny has the highest level of social capital recorded out of seven other urban and rural communities.
What’s going on with Woolies?
There was strong community opposition to a Woolies’ Food Barn being built on the banks of Maleny’s Obi Obi Creek. For more than a year, protestors camped out to protect the 30 – strong platypus colony that lived in the creek. Hundreds heckled as the bulldozers moved in.
The state government declined to intercede and stop the development, but its sympathies were with the townsfolk.
‘I feel for these protesters who don’t want a supermarket to change the village atmosphere in Maleny,’ Police Minister Judy Spence said. ‘However, the developers have a legal right to build on this site.’
Woolworths ‘won’ and opened up in town six months ago, BUT…
It seems financial power may not be the winner…. no-one can MAKE Maleny people actually USE the supermarket.
Six months after it opened, Woolies’ shelves are full, but the aisles are empty while the Independent Grocers Association supermarket is struggling to keep pace with demand.
A Sydney Morning Herald article reports that last year’s battle for Maleny may be just the first round in a longer war that at the moment Woolies is losing!
Apparently media coverage of last year’s protests focused on scores of police battling telegenic dreadlocked, new-age protesters ‘a minority hippie element’ who said Woolies’ plans threatened the local platypus habitat. The reality today is that local farmers and businessowners, who mingle easily with tree-changers escaping the suburban coastal sprawl, all aim to make the Maleny store the most unprofitable Woolies in Oz…….”They probably thought the opposition was just going to fade away”, say locals.
Some residents are so angry they are returning unsolicited advertising material to the company’s reply-paid address. More than 90,000 flyers have been mailed back in the past year, costing the company at least $50,000, some say.
In the past few weeks three readers have alerted us to the threat of this sort of unwanted development in different parts of Australia. What’s happening in your region? DO share your story…