A new review is set to put the “heat” on Australian supermarkets over rising prices amid cost-of-living pressures.
Former Labor minister Craig Emerson has been appointed to lead a federal inquiry into the supermarket industry’s code of conduct.
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Appearing on Sunrise on Thursday, Emerson said the inquiry hopes to introduce more “competition” in the industry.
“We want to introduce more competition into the supermarket industry … competition brings out the best in people, and it brings out the best in business,” Emerson said.
“We have two major supermarkets, but now Aldi … that is a welcome development. I helped get Aldi into the country as a competitor — so there are ways of boosting competition.”
Emerson explained the review — which will provide recommendations to the government — may introduce price monitoring through the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC).
Former Labor minister Craig Emerson has been appointed to lead a federal inquiry into the supermarket industry’s code of conduct. Credit: Sunrise
“In a sense, putting the heat on supermarkets through this review, and through potentially price monitoring through the ACCC by making the code of conduct mandatory … I do think we can shift the dial,” Emerson said.
He praised supermarket giant Coles for slashing prices this week — ahead of the review’s recommendations.
“I do welcome Coles saying now — better late than never — that they are going to reduce the price on 300 items for at least three months,” Emerson said.
But Sunrise host Monique Wright said Aussies get “fed up with reviews” and questioned if the inquiry would make a difference.
“We’re frustrated, thinking that this could be a toothless tiger. How do you as the chief make sure that something gets done?” she asked.
Emerson said the review would put “intense scrutiny” on supermarket prices.
“What has happened with suppliers of meat and other products — their prices have gone down, but that hasn’t shown up in the supermarket prices (passed on to customers),” Emerson said.
“We’ll talk to all relevant parties — particularly to the suppliers. This review is about the relationship between the suppliers and the supermarkets … it’s pursuant to setting up the voluntary code of conduct … and one option (Prime Minister) Anthony Albanese is talking about is making it a mandatory code of conduct.”
Emerson said the review would need to be completed by June 30 this year.
Coles announced on Wednesday it was dropping the price on more than 300 products in-store and online.