Small army takes on Kaufland giant

Star Journal | Friday 26 October 2018

Local retailers Ming Suy, Carlos Aboujaber, Greater Dandenong councillor Jim Memeti, Ferdi Tairi, Terry Tairovski, Ben Adili and Vass Adili at the proposed Kaufland site.186750_01 Picture: STEWART CHAMBERS


By Cam Lucadou-Wells

Small retailers and Greater Dandenong Council are lining up to oppose a multinational Kaufland supermarket proposed in Dandenong.

Kaufland has proposed a 6680-square-metre premises including a supermarket, liquor outlet, food hall and a towering 22-metre sign at the former Bunnings site on the corner of Gladstone Road and Princes Highway.

The German-based retail giant has successfully requested the State Government call in its application to rezone land for six stores across Melbourne, bypassing local council planners.

The application will be heard by a State planning advisory committee from November.

Greater Dandenong councillor Jim Memeti said the council had prepared an opposing submission on “planning grounds”.

He said the supermarket would be five to 10 times the size of a Coles or Woolworths store, selling items from “sliced cheese to changing a tyre”.

“There’s not many things they are not going to sell.”

Cr Memeti said it was wrong that Kaufland had avoided the council planning process.

“As long as Kaufland went through the right processes I didn’t mind. That’s justice.”

“I don’t think justice has been served this time round where they’ve gone straight to the Minister.”

Business owners in the recently revitalised Hemmings and Menzies street shopping strips fear that Kaufland will destroy their livelihoods.

Several were concerned that Kaufland was proposing a “massive” liquor outlet through the “back door” despite smaller outlets failing to win extensions to their liquor licences.

Ferdi Tairi of Menzies Cellars says several small outlets had made time-consuming, expensive but unsuccessful applications for longer opening hours.

They had been rejected due to authorities’ concerns about the saturation of alcohol outlets in Dandenong.

Terry Tairovski, who has run Menzies Cellars for 20 years, said: “Why do these guys get in through the back door?”

“They’re in our patch. I’d prefer they went through the local council who are elected to represent the community.

“Why should the big boys get special treatment?”

Carlos Aboujaber of Foodworx Brady Road says he’d recovered through the hard times when the shopping strip was dead.

Now the shops were thriving, Kaufland were given a fast-track process to set up in a “blink of an eye”.

“It’s unAustralian.”

Vass Adili of Dandenong IGA says his store employs six of his family. He’d spent two years in a costly and unsuccessful fight to sell liquor on Good Friday and Christmas Day – like the major supermarket chains.

“You know how many local businesses will be destroyed here?

“Think about your ‘family’ and our families too.”

Independent supermarkets such as IGA and FoodWorks have joined a Save Our Shops campaign calling for the State Government to allow local councils to decide the issue.

Master Grocers Association chief executive Jos De Bruin said the Government was giving an unfair advantage to an overseas competitor.

Planning Minister Richard Wynne said he’d set up an advisory committee process on Kaufland stores to “ensure we get the best outcomes for local communities and Victoria”.

“Members of the public and local retail community are encouraged to participate in the process and share their views.”

The advisory committee will make recommendations back to the Planning Minister, who is expected to decide the matter in early 2019.

A 20 business-day public submissions period closes at 5pm on 26 October.

Kaufland did not respond to Star News’s enquiries.

  • Michelle Cai
    published this page in News 2018-10-29 14:30:25 +1100