If a tree falls in a native Australian forest, should anybody care?
That’s the question effectively being asked by critics of GetUp’s ‘No Harvey No’ campaign. The campaign was launched in partnership with Markets for Change following a year long investigation into the journey of timber sourced from native Australian forests in Tasmania, Victoria, New South Wales and Western Australia.
The investigation found Australia native forests were being logged, with the resulting timber being shipped off to China where it was being made into furniture which was then sent back to Australia to be sold in places like Harvey Norman stores.
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Gerry Harvey spends a whole stack of money on advertising.
I note this as a disclaimer for the article which follows, which is not intended as a sop to a bloke with deep pockets who helps keep our business afloat. Indeed given the serious trouble I have had as an editor over the years with sooky chief executives at our gouging banks cancelling advertising in protest at editorial content, it’s a novel thrill to write something which an advertiser might enjoy.
Gerry Harvey has become something of a hate figure in Australia today. I’m kind of puzzled as to why. He has probably left himself open to attacks because, unlike other chief executives who prefer to fly under the radar, Harvey speaks his mind and is always prepared to front up for a fight. Apart from having committed the apparent sin of working hard and making lots of money, Harvey is disliked for two reasons.
The yips. It’s an old golf term which refers to golfers who lose the ability to putt. They stand over the ball and they tremble. They quake. They can barely hold the damn club, let alone propel the ball into a hole that suddenly appears the size of a thimble.
The term has since migrated across to other sports. Beijing gold medallist Steve Hooker today admitted that he has the pole vault yips. He just can’t place that pole in the right spot anymore, and his London campaign is in severe jeopardy.
If it’s any consolation Steve, you’re not the only person struggling to get your mojo back. Several other prominent Australians across all walks of life have totally lost the ability to do the thing they were once pretty good at. Here are five more prominent cases of the Yips. The Punch heartily invites more suggestions from you.
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If you’re in a Harvey Norman store right now preparing to buy a video game, put it down. Gerry has commanded you.
The CEO of electronics chain Harvey Norman Gerry Harvey has admitted defeat and will finally be opening an online store.
But he won’t be selling fridges. Oh no. Nor will he be selling fans, or air-conditioning units, or iPods, iPads, televisions or cameras.
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The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission and successive governments have failed to curb retailers’ increasing market power, which is why Australians pay more at the store.
Gerry Harvey may be one of Australia’s well known and most successful “traditional” retailers, but he has seriously misjudged the consumer support for online retailing. He is not alone in getting it wrong. Major retailers and shopping centre landlords have also been very unhappy with Australian consumers going online to buy from overseas websites.
Why are the major retailers and shopping centre landlords unhappy with the growth of online retailing? Simply because online retailing offers very strong competition to the major retailers and shopping centre landlords. In the “old” days before the rise of the internet, consumers were basically forced to visit shopping centres and department stores to purchase products.
There are a lot of tricks and short cuts taken in modern discourse, with its short attention span and abundance of professional spin doctors. In particular, when discussing policy there is a certain word which is often uttered as if it was magic spells that can silence one’s detractors.
The word is “jobs”. It is increasingly favoured by politicians and rent-seeking lobby groups, but are we finally becoming too skeptical for it to work?
Whenever the debate turns to an economic issue, this word is sure to surface early on in the rhetoric for or against any proposal. It is implicit in such an argument that whichever decision creates more jobs must be the right one. Unemployment is, after all, a calamity we would hardly wish on our worst enemy. The more jobs, the better things must be for Australians and our economy.
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Harvey Norman boss Gerry Harvey has dramatically decided to step away from a campaign to regulate the purchase of goods online from overseas. Harvey has blamed a torrent of social media abuse as prime reason for his departure.
Harvey said the attacks were “vicious and hateful” and, as for the campaign, well, it was “bad timing”.
However, Harvey really bells the cat when he says ‘you might have got a nasty phone call or a letter back in the old days but now anything slightly controversial, these people, whoever they might be, they go for you zealously and with hatred all over Twitter”.
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Sometimes you’ve just got to laugh in the face of brazen hypocrisy and insincerity. It can be pretty funny, after all.
One of my favourites was last year’s public campaign from the ‘Alliance of Australian Retailers’ railing against the mooted introduction of plain cigarette packaging.
Their hilarious (but deadly serious) message was “It won’t work so why do it?” Which, for me, prompted two questions: 1. Shouldn’t that question have a comma in the middle of it? And, 2. If you’re so sure it won’t work, why are you wasting around $9 million on an ad campaign to try and stop it?
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