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Don’t get too optimistic by Aldi’s NQ arrival: Katter pushing for ‘level playing field’

May 15, 2023

OPTIMISTIC North Queenslanders set to welcome a new major supermarket in Townsville should be cautious about real impacts the grocer’s introduction will have on their budgets, Katter’s Australian Party MP Bob Katter warns.

Mr Katter has long advocated for increased competitiveness in the grocery sector and said while Aldi’s introduction to Townsville was a step in the right direction, it was unlikely it would have real impacts on family budgets.[1][1]

“Among the supermarket giants, the big two, and the smaller third – they don’t compete against each other, they compete with each other,” Mr Katter said.

“So it might not be a monopoly here, or a duopoly, but it certainly is an oligopoly.

“During my travels I often arrive in Townsville late at night and chose to buy my groceries from the IGA near the airport. And until we all start shopping at the independents more, the poor old farmer will continue selling his potatoes to the supermarket for 52c per kilo, and we’ll keep buying them for $3.50.

“So the workers at these supermarkets are on minimum wages, the farmers are getting bugger all, families are paying increasing amounts for their food, and between all that there are executives earning millions because they have full market control.”

Mr Katter said the 2022 household expenditure survey showed the average weekly shop for a family of four was $478 per week, while in 1990 it was $148 per week – an increase of 223 per cent.

In the same time period, average wages had only increased by 226 per cent, from $550 per week to $1808 per week.

Mr Katter said he would be presenting to the government legislation that would increase supermarket competitiveness, and reduce the markup on produce from farmgate to the shelves.

Mr Katter’s six legislation recommendations are:  

(a) Food and manufacturing labelling that highlights hidden imports and prevents fraud.

(b) Fresh produce labelling system that indicates the farm-gate price and the supermarket mark up.

(c) Divestiture legislation that reduces the market power of the corporations that operate the major supermarkets with the objective of levelling the playing field providing a competitive marketplace for consumers and suppliers.

(d) National Office of Better Agricultural Regulation with powers to reduce red tape and consider the actual cost of implementing both marketplace regulations.

(e) Investment in infrastructure and critical supplies/ support industries to reduce production and transportation costs (i.e. gas prices for fertiliser, chemicals, fuel, worker access).

 

He said Coles and Woolworths were now estimated to hold more than 60 per cent of the market, but he did not blame the retail giants for making the most of current legislation, running a business and serving shareholders.

“I’m not after Woolworths and Coles, I’m after a level playing field,” Mr Katter said.

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