Senate inquiry calls for price gouging to be made illegal and for supermarket divestiture powers

Australian Greens

The Greens-led Senate Select Committee on Supermarket Prices has recommended making price gouging illegal, as well as introducing divestiture laws to create powers to break up Australia’s supermarket duopoly.

“This is a landmark report with serious proposals to tackle the price of food, and the profiteering that has done so much harm to the people of Australia,” Greens Economic Justice spokesperson and Committee Chair Senator Nick McKim said.

“The committee has produced concrete steps that would tackle these problems head on.”

“Chief amongst these is the recommendation that price gouging be made illegal.”

“This would mean that corporations couldn’t just arbitrarily increase prices without facing consequences from the courts.”

“This would be a significant new power to stop unreasonable pricing that has been rampant for years because of a lack of competition.”

“The committee has also recommended divestiture powers for the supermarket sector, which would give the Federal Court the power to break up corporations when they abuse their market power or act unconscionably.”

The committee’s other recommendations include:

  • The establishment of a Prices and Competition Commission to examine and monitor prices and price setting across the economy and require supermarkets to publish historical pricing data.
  • That the Food and Grocery Code of Conduct be made mandatory with significant penalties for breaches, and be expanded to greenlife industries and any retailer that stocks food and grocery products
  • That the ACCC be given powers to investigate land banking and unfair trading practices.
  • Supermarkets be made to adopt mandatory standards for unit pricing, and notify customers of changes in sizes or prices of products, to help prevent shrinkflation
  • For the Government to standardise discount and promotional terms, to prevent supermarkets promoting fake discounts.
  • For the Government to back stronger health and safety standards for supermarket employees
  • Further investigation of the role of multinational food manufacturers in price increases in Australia
  • That the National Food Waste Strategy is updated to require supermarkets to publish data on food waste and consider whether unrealistic cosmetic standards are adding to waste.

“The committee has heard the devastating evidence on the effects of price gouging and how hard it is hitting people.”

“The Greens established this inquiry to bring food prices down and that is exactly what our recommendations will do.”

“We’ve heard from farmers and suppliers about how the massive market power of Coles and Woolworths is allowing them to act unconscionably.”

“Without the ability to break up the duopoly, our market will remain skewed towards the interests of a few powerful players and nothing will change.”

“There is a Bill before Parliament right now to create divestiture powers. The only thing standing in its way is the Labor Party.”

The report can be found here.

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