House debates

Wednesday, 28 February 2024

Matters of Public Importance

Grocery Prices

3:14 pm

Photo of Bob KatterBob Katter (Kennedy, Katter's Australian Party) Share this | Hansard source

Madam Deputy Speaker, I reiterate again that, when they had 50.1 per cent of the market, they had the disgusting mark-up of 108 per cent. As their market share grew, so did the outrageous mark-up, to 179 per cent. Those figures are two or three years old and my colleague from South Australia behind me pointed out today that I was using potatoes as an example. I had $3.99, and she quoted a figure which was well in excess of that. Those figures that I was quoting were 12 months old. The supermarkets are having the world's greatest picnic.

Someone said, 'What about the employees of Woolworths and Coles?' There won't be any. You've all been down there, and if you're waiting at the check-out to be served you'll wait 20 minutes. If you go and serve yourself, you can go straight through. That's good, but what happens to the workers that have jobs there? Their jobs are vanishing at a rate of knots.

I'm not going to go into the farmers and how they are suffering, but I will say this: at the time of the deregulation of the milk industry by the National Party, on the Friday we were on 61c a litre; on the Monday, we were on 29c a litre—that happened in one day. And who did it? It was the National Party in this place, and I was a member. Shamefully, I have to admit I was a member of that party. That was the final straw for me, and I got out as I watched my poor old dairy farmers vanish. There were 258, but then it was only 58. At a meeting, the state member, Shane Knuth, a member of our party, said, 'Try 48,' and the lady behind him said, 'Try 38.' That area had the highest suicide rate in Australia. That is what you did to the farmers. To your shame, Liberal and National parties, they still vote for you. Doesn't it make your sin infinitely worse that those poor people still believe in you. Shame, shame.

There are the figures. There are people in this country going hungry now because no-one has the moral courage to stand up and act and do what should be done and is done in every other country in the world. When I looked last time, the worst country in the world was England, where the big six food retailers had 36 per cent of the market. Here we have the big two, with 85 to 90 per cent of the market. Every country has laws that say you can't have a monopoly, a duopoly or the centralisation of market power. We have those laws, but they are a joke. They are not being enforced and never will be enforced. Also, the laws themselves are grossly inadequate, and that is why we are introducing this bill. I will be very surprised if everybody on the crossbench doesn't vote for it. We got more than 33 per cent of the vote in the last election, whilst you mob got less than 33 per cent, and you mob got less than 33 per cent. So watch out, because it's growing and it will grow even further when people learn of the perfidious behaviour of this government and the last government in doing absolutely nothing and watching the farmers get destroyed.

I think something like 30 per cent now of our fresh fruit and vegetables is coming from overseas, where people work for slave labour wage levels. And that's the farmers and the retailers—how many times have I heard the word 'affordability' in this place. Here's food, the most important commodity, and the people who are selling it have got mark-ups of 200 per cent. And we accept it. This legislation will stop that. (Time expired)


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