GROCER Bob Mathews is delighted the NSW government is offering compensation to retailers hurt by its 10-cent refund scheme for bottles and cans.
The owner of IGA supermarkets at East Albury, Springdale Heights and Jindera believes it is a win for the power of protest.
“The result is a great result for a government seeing that when they’ve done some damage they can fix it,” Mr Mathews said.
“I’ve never been involved in this sort of issue and this sort of action, but I thought it was important they could see this through our eyes.”
Mr Mathews and fellow independent grocers from Norris Park and Corowa had protested by unfurling a banner in Dean St, Albury, in front of NSW premier Gladys Berejiklian in November.
They later lobbied the state’s Small Business Commissioner Robyn Hobbs and Cross Border Commissioner James McTavish for help, arguing their proximity to Victoria meant they were losing sales as there was no 10-cent deposit on drinks sold south of the Murray River.
Late on Friday afternoon, member for Albury Greg Aplin and Small Business Minister John Barilaro announced drink vendors within 80 kilometres of the Victorian border would be offered financial aid.
Mr Mathews and other retailers will meet Mr Barilaro in Albury on Tuesday to discuss details of the help which is aimed at providers of cartons and multipacks of drinks rather than stores which sell individual cans and bottles.
Mr Aplin said the transition funding would involve two lump sums over a 12-month period with affected businesses needing to supply details of monthly sales by volume and revenue.
Mr Mathews said he hoped profits would also be considered, saying most NSW Border retailers had reduced prices to Victorian levels and therefore had absorbed the scheme to negate it affecting revenues and volumes.
“There needs to be a profit component,” he said.
But overall Mr Mathews is glad the government has acted, even though a review by the NSW Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal is still unfolding.
“It’s an indication that the man in the street can actually achieve something,” he said.
He offered particular praise to Ms Hobbs who had offered hope by pointing to compensation given to taxi drivers following the emergence of ride-sharing enterprises such as Uber.