In a significant move aimed at addressing concerns about the widening gap between the cost of groceries and farmers’ earnings, Queensland Premier Steven Miles has announced a comprehensive parliamentary inquiry that will scrutinise major supermarket chains in the sunshine state.
Coles, Woolworths, and Aldi are set to face the inquiry, signaling a new era of transparency and accountability in the grocery industry.
The announcement comes after Premier Miles held meetings with representatives from the supermarket giants, where he raised concerns about the disparity between the prices consumers pay for groceries and the incomes farmers receive for their produce.
‘They were good meetings and they were concerned about the concerns that I was raising with them,” he said.
“They all agreed to participate in that parliamentary inquiry.”
I held meetings with the supermarket execs yesterday and told them how concerned Queenslanders are about this.
I’m launching a Parliamentary Inquiry into price gouging – and they’ve agreed to take part.
— Steven Miles (@StevenJMiles) January 19, 2024
The decision to conduct an inquiry reflects the growing discontent among farmers and consumers alike. Supermarket chains have faced criticism for reaping substantial profits, while consumers grapple with the economic strains of the rising cost of living.
Premier Miles emphasised the importance of detailed scrutiny of supermarket chains, deeming it a “fitting” response to the concerns raised by farmers and consumers.
“Transparency and scrutiny is a key first step in both addressing the way our farmers are treated as well as delivering cheaper groceries for Queensland families,’ he said.
Premier Miles’ announcement of a parliamentary inquiry into supermarket pricing marks the second significant probe into this contentious issue, after a Senate inquiry into allegations of “price gouging” was announced last year by the Australian Greens.
The inquiry aims to investigate whether major supermarket chains have been hiking grocery prices as Australians stare down the barrel of a cost of living crisis.
Announcing the inquiry, Greens Economic Justice Spokesperson Senator Nick McKim accused both Coles and Woolworths of “making billions in profits by price gouging in a cost of living crisis.”
“For too long the big supermarkets have had too much market power. This allows them to dictate prices and terms that are hitting people hard,” McKim said at the time.
“It’s time to smash the duopoly.
“Coles and Woolworths are making billions in profits because they feel that they can overcharge people without repercussions. It needs to end.
“We want the CEOs to justify their decisions in a public hearing.
“This inquiry is a critical step toward dismantling the market concentration that’s led to unfair pricing and stifled competition.
“We’ll find a way to dismantle their power and bring grocery prices down.
“It is about ensuring that Australians can afford to eat without being exploited, and that suppliers are treated fairly.”
Initial hearings are expected to commence in early 2024.