Restrictive planning not to blame for prices: SCCA

Posted by James Ferre on 12th May 2008

The Shopping Centre Council of Australia has refuted claims that Australia’s planning laws are to blame for high grocery prices.

The argument comes following the announcement last month by the Government that foreign retailers would be allowed an extra four years to develop a site for one of their retail outlets.

Changes to legislation were met with some positivity as concerns about competition in Australia with regard to grocery prices has been very high and has led to an ACCC inquiry. The new laws were anticipated to assist foreign retailers like Aldi and Franklins with establishment of their companies along with enticing greater overseas competition from the likes of Costco and Wal-Mart.

The SCCA, a lobby group for the owners of over 60% of Australia’s retail floor space, don’t believe the new legislation will have any impact and are also strong in their assertion that floor space in Australia is growing at a rate which meets demand. “Australia has seen a doubling of shopping floor space over the past 15 years,” Executive Director Milton Cockburn said in the SCCA’s submission to the ACCC price inquiry.

The submission also indicated concern from the SCCA that new laws will have a negative impact on their members (which include Westfield and GPT) while also implying that the legislation would not lead to a sudden increase in shopping centre developments.

However, with food inflation since 1990 higher in Australia than any other nation in the developed world, there will be many who dispute the claims of the SCCA.