Studies in Applied Geography and Spatial Analysis
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Studies in Applied Geography and Spatial Analysis

Addressing Real World Issues

Edited by Robert Stimson and Kingsley E. Haynes

This timely and fascinating book illustrates how applied geography can contribute in a multitude of ways to assist policy processes, evaluate public programs, enhance business decisions, and contribute to formulating solutions for community-level problems.
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Chapter 10: Geographical modelling, public policy and informing the ‘store wars’ sovereignty debate in Australia

Robert G.V. Baker and Stephen N. Wood


A criticism of the quantitative revolution in geography was that the models developed by analogy or through rational assumptions were of little relevance for understanding activities such as shoppers’ behaviour in space. The idea of applying assumptions of ‘distance minimization’ or ‘time minimization’ strategies were argued to be no more than assuming consumers were ‘atoms’ and it was said to be meaningless to apply such models to public policy. This proposition is challenged here through a review of a spatial interaction model – the retail aggregate space–time trip (RASTT) model – developed in the 1980s and applied in ongoing cases in the retail policy to become an integral part of the ‘store wars’ debate in Australia since 1993. It made successful predictions about how the dynamic retail landscape would change with time as a result of shopping hours deregulation. This has been assessed and cross-examined through court cases and government inquiries over the past two decades. This chapter discusses the RASTT model of consumer movement behaviour which was put on the political agenda with the predictions of significant changes of when and where consumers, on aggregate, undertake their shopping trips from a regulated to a deregulated trading hour environment. Its application to public policy was a feature of media interest and parliamentary inquiries in the 1990s, culminating in successful court cases (before Industrial Relations Commissions) against shopping hour liberalization in the state of New South Wales (NSW) in 1999, Queensland 1998 and 2005, and the Western Australian Trading Hour Referendum in 2005.

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