House debates

Wednesday, 28 February 2024

Matters of Public Importance

Grocery Prices

3:59 pm

Photo of Libby CokerLibby Coker (Corangamite, Australian Labor Party) Share this | Hansard source

At its heart, this matter of public importance is about cost-of-living pressures facing Australians. The Albanese government recognise that many in our communities are doing it tough, and we're doing everything we can to reduce the burden. We know that the cost of groceries is putting Australians under the pump, and we're continuing to take meaningful action to hold supermarkets to account, because we know the cost of groceries is rising and making it harder for families to put healthy food on the table.

People across my electorate are coming up to me at the cricket, in the supermarket and at local markets to tell me they aren't paying a fair price for their groceries. Meg from Torquay told me that something needs to be done. 'It's insane,' she said. 'Over the last five years, the price of my grocery basket has been going up and up.' For local, hardworking people like Meg, it's time for government to tackle this issue and take a proactive approach, and that's just what the Albanese government is doing.

I do acknowledge that, as a government, we don't control the market economy, but it is our job to use every lever to ensure the market best serves our communities with their consumer practices. Our Treasurer has pulled those levers to ensure supermarkets will be held to account, that their prices are fair and reasonable and that suppliers, including our farmers and local producers, are given a fair go. At the moment, I'm being told that this is not always the case. In response to rising community concern, the Treasurer has directed the ACCC to conduct a 12-month price inquiry into the supermarket industry. The ACCC will examine the competitiveness of retail prices for the groceries we buy every week. The recommendations of this inquiry will be provided to government in early 2025, and we will work with the ACCC to ensure shoppers and suppliers are getting a fair deal.

Our government is also providing $1.1 million funding to consumer organisation Choice to provide shoppers with a clear understanding of how supermarkets are performing on this score. That's because, across thousands of products, it can be hard for people to find the best deal. We're backing Choice, which is renowned for its commitment to consumer fairness, to provide clear and regular information on prices across a basket of goods. This will promote transparency, enhance competition and drive value.

It doesn't stop there. We've appointed Dr Craig Emerson to lead a review of the Food and Grocery Code of Conduct. A consultation paper has been released, and I've been encouraging everyone across my electorate to make their submission. This is about making sure families and our farmers get a fair go, because, when farmers are selling their product for less, supermarkets should charge Australians less. For me, it's that simple. These actions send a clear message: our Albanese government is prepared to take action to ensure Australians are not paying one dollar more than they should for the things they need.

Moreover, these inquiries are all about taking more action on cost-of-living challenges and ensuring Australians have an economy that works for them. That's why, along with these inquiries, we're delivering a tax cut for every Australian taxpayer. We want Australians to earn more and keep more of what they earn. In my electorate, more than 85 per cent of locals like Meg will be heading to the checkout with a bigger tax cut and more money in their pocket. This means more dollars in the pockets of all Australians across my electorate and across the nation—more than $1,500 for a local worker on an average wage.

In closing, we know that more competition is better for consumers, suppliers and our nation. Most importantly, we want more competition that is better for prices at the checkout, and we want to ensure that our hardworking Australians keep more of what they earn.


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