Saturday, June 13, 2015

Mullumbimby: a case study in the unexpected outcomes of protest

The photo shows a demonstration in Mullumbimby against  the building of a Woolworth's store in the town. The photo comes from an interesting story in the Sydney Morning Herald by Malcolm Knox: How Woolworths overcame local opposition and set up a supermarket near Mullumbimby.

In very simple terms, a local family wanted to build a supermarket in the town, part of Byron Shire, but faced fierce opposition. Finally, they sold the project out to Woolworths who with time, money and connections were able to go around the protestors. The end result was a bigger store owned outside the town.

This is hardly the result the protestors wanted. I suspect if asked to make a choice between a locally owned store and a bigger store owned by Woolworths, they would have opted for the first very quickly. But then, that's a retrospective view. Having won on the first count, they expected to win on the second as well.

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