Retailers’ unhealthy focus

Picture: file image.
Picture: file image.

There are now 17 alcohol outlets within 3km of Midvale but only four fresh grocers.

Compounding the issue, there are about 40 fast-food outlets within the same area, as revealed by the Midland Reporter two years ago.

Concerns over merchants of unhealthy items in the suburbs comes after the latest application by Coles for a new Liquorland outlet in Swan View, which would displace the suburb’s only fruit and vegetable grocer.

The Heart Foundation, McCusker Centre for Action on Alcohol and Youth and WA Police Commissioner Karl O’Callaghan have all condemned the application.

Heart Foundation WA chief executive Maurice Swanson said the trend of concentrating liquor and fast food outlets was ‘the perfect storm for ill health’.

‘The (Midland) area needs another liquor outlet like it needs a hole in the head,’ he said.

‘It is just distressing from a public health point of view that a liquor store could be displacing a shop that provides fresh fruit and vegetables, which people need to access more.

‘If you look at socially disadvantaged areas, you will find that per head of population, there are more junk food outlets, more liquor outlets and more retail outlets selling tobacco.’

He said drinking, smoking and unhealthy eating behaviours were largely influenced by factors such as availability, access, price and promotion.

The views of the health organisations are largely echoed by Swan View locals, 3500 of whom have signed their names to a petition against the Liquorland application. Another 900 have also been posted in an online petition.

In a brief statement, Coles said no final decision had been made on the Swan View store.

‘We understand that centre management are assessing the site and we have been in discussion with them,’ the statement said.

‘Coles and Liquorland remain focused on what we can do to best serve the community of Swan View.’

Coles operates more than 630 Liquorland stores in Australia and 300 of them are located next to a Coles Supermarket, like the proposal at Swan View Shopping Centre. Coles also has more than 80 Vintage Cellars and 80 First Choice Liquor outlets across the nation.