Please phone me Gerry Harvey

Maybe they are targetting the only demographic sympathetic to their cause, but amazingly the retailers campaigning for GST to be applied to overseas online purchases are running their campaign exclusively in the print media at the moment.

While they do have plans to potentially take it to TV, the only way they are getting on the net at the moment is tangentially via news sites.

You have to wonder how seriously they are taking the campaign when the total budget is a measly $200,000, and doesn’t even stretch to a Facebook page or a Twitter account.

They appear to be repeating the mistakes of the recording industry. Instead of competing on the Internet with the newcomers they are trying to roll marbles under their feet. They’ll run out of marbles pretty quickly and they’ll find that their competitors are pretty fleet, even over marbles.

A better way to spend the $200,000 would be to set up an online shop using an offshore subsidiary – yes, they could build one for that, or less – as they have threatened.

It’s the small retailers who will suffer from the Internet, not the large ones. Companies like Harvey Norman and David Jones should have email addresses of millions of customers as well as in-store and out-store cross-promotional opportunities, and the off-shore purchasing power to match overseas online competitors.

If online retailing is going to grow as the retailers are forecasting they have nothing to lose by being in there fast, whether or not they are successful with their campaign against the GST.

I’ve been thinking about all of this because I was looking to commission an article from them defending their position. They’ve got a good case to put about the GST, although the one on employment doesn’t take account of economic experience post about 1700. But do you think I can find a contact point, given that I don’t have a copy of yesterday’s paper with me and the online version isn’t running their ad?

So Gerry Harvey, if anyone in your office has a Google alert on your name, you or your PR person might give me a call on 0411 104 801. Not only would we be happy to run your copy, but we could help you out with an Internet strategy for the campaign, as well as your online retailing – all proceeds to go to support online independent publishing at, a cause as worthy as domestic retailing.

This piece was cross-posted at Ambit Gambit, a blog associated with On Line Opinion which we publish for The National Forum. 12 years old this year, OLO is Australia’s most popular politics site.

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