Michael Johnsen launches online petition to save local Target stores

Michael Johnsen MP, Member for Upper Hunter has launched an online petition calling on Westfarmers and Target to reconsider their decision to close stores in rural and regional NSW.

Wesfarmers announced last Friday that more than 150 Target stores will either close altogether or be converted to Kmart stores in a major restructuring.

The company told the stock market it would shift its focus from the struggling Target brand to Kmart and will increase its online efforts in a move from bricks and mortar stores in town centres.

Mr Johnsen, in launching the petition, said that he believed that Target store closures would unfairly impact regions.

'Target has announced it will close more than a dozen stores in rural and regional NSW, which will make it even harder for families to buy clothes and toys for their children, as well as essentials for the home", Mr Johnsen said.

"It is very disappointing that Wesfarmers, a business with a proud rural and regional history and focus should now abandon its roots and forget how it became successful to date.

"In Upper Hunter, our Scone store is set to close in early to mid 2021 and this is a real kick in the face to a dedicated and supportive community. This is something that will sadly be repeated across country NSW.

"In many cases, this will force people to drive an hour or more to buy these everyday items, making life even harder for people in the regions.

"I am asking our local community here in Scone, the wider electorate, and across our state of NSW to lend their voices to the campaign to keep these stores open, to make Target realise that people in the regions need and deserve access to affordable everyday items.

"There is also the issue of local jobs being lost, and that couldn't come at a worse time for locals or the local economy which have worked hard and loyally for Target.

"A webpage has been set up where anyone can go and register their disappointment with Westfarmers and with Target.

"As with many things, if government works together with communities, we can achieve a lot. We can save jobs and keep businesses operating locally.

The webpage that was set up following Mr Johnsen's advocacy of the communities that will be affected by Target's decision can be reached at: https://www.nswnationals.org.au/target/

"As well as launching this webpage via our National Party, I have also directly written to Wesfarmers to express our community's voice and push to have the decision reversed," Mr Johnsen said.

"We can only try and appeal to the community spirit of the people running a business born from a rural and regional base.

"I understand business and what is required, but short term profits are only one consideration in making such decisions about the future of such an important community business," Mr Johnsen concluded.