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Piggy politicians squeal for end to greedy grocers

Source: Twitter/Naveen Razik

Dressed head to toe in air-powered swine costumes and snuffling from troughs of cash, two of Australia’s most outspoken politicians have given the supermarket giants a blast for pigging out on profits as Australians struggle.

Independents Bob Katter and Andrew Wilkie marched through the halls of Parliament on Wednesday in bright pink pig suits labelled “Cold” and ‘Worthless” to bring attention to a bill that would reduce the market dominance of Coles and Woolworths.

The government has directed the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission to review prices and competition in the sector and appointed former Labor minister Craig Emerson to review the effectiveness of the grocery code of conduct, which governs how the supermarkets treat their suppliers.

But the two independents say the government must do more to stop them from undercutting farmers and charging consumers “a squillion dollars”, in the words of Senator Katter.

“Nowhere in the world, with the likely exception of North Korea … is there such a duopoly of supermarkets,” Wilkie told reporters in Canberra

“They use that monopoly, and the power from their monopoly, to charge whatever they want.”

It is estimates Australia’s supermarkets had a 65 per cent share of the groceries market in 2023, whereas similar giants in Canada and the United states comprise about 45 per cent of the market.

The bill would force Coles and Woolworths to, at most, divest 20 per cent of their market power in the grocery sector within five years.

Similar divestiture powers have been supported by Nationals leader David Littleproud and recommended by former ACCC chair Allan Fels.

The government has instead maintained a commitment to implementing competition measures, with Prime Minister Anthony Albanese saying Australia was not “the old Soviet union”.

But divestiture laws would put Australia in line with nations such as the United States.

The bill also aims to establish a food retail commissioner with powers to stop price gouging and other anti-competitive behaviours and suggests scrapping the Food and Grocery Code of Conduct which Katter says provides a mechanism for supermarkets to control suppliers and producers.

This stunt is the second time the legislation has been brought to parliament, after first being introduced by Katter and supported by Wilkie in 2013.

“10 years later, we’re still looking at mark ups,” Wilkie said.

“They’re having to go at us, they’re treating us like mugs.”

– AAP

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