Thursday, January 18, 2024


Mackay and Whitsunday Life


Federal Member for Dawson Andrew Willcox is backing calls for an Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) Inquiry into fruit and vegetable prices to make supermarkets pay their fair share.


“While Coles and Woolworths made record profits of more than $1 billion each last year, the individuals and families living in our electorate of Dawson are struggling with rising grocery costs during a cost-of-living crisis,” Mr Willcox said.


“Over the past 18 months we have seen fuel prices increase, energy prices increase, and now we’re all paying more at the checkout while supermarkets are paying farmers less and it’s not good enough.


“Farmers are integral to Australia, they provide food and fibre to the entire nation, and as a third-generation farmer myself I know just how difficult it can be on our farming families.


“If something doesn’t happen soon, we run the risk of seeing farmers walking away entirely and food security in Australia plummet.”

The Federal Government has appointed Dr Craig Emerson to lead the 2023-24 review of the Food and Grocery Code of Conduct (the Code) to ensure that the supermarket sector is working as it should.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said the government was tackling cost of living and ensuring Australian families have an economy that works for them.

“We have been clear - if the price for meat and fruit and vegetables is going down at the farm gate then families should be seeing cheaper prices on supermarket shelves too.

“Supermarkets have a duty to make sure they’re providing affordable options for all Australians, especially when they’re making savings on their own costs.

“We’ve made looking after consumers a key priority over the past 18 months and we’ll keep looking at every option to make sure Australians aren’t paying more than they should or getting less than they deserve.

“If there are further steps that are needed then the Government will not hesitate to take action.”

Mr Willcox stressed that a review isn’t going to go far enough.

“The ACCC has the expertise and the ability to do something about this issue, and the last thing we need are more politicians who don’t have the intricate understanding of market and pricing policies just sitting around asking questions.

“Something must be done, it’s now a matter of urgency.


“After 100 days from their announcement for a review of the Food and Grocery Code of Conduct, the Prime Minister has only just appointed someone to lead the review and it’s too little too late.


In November last year Mr Willcox urged Treasurer Jim Chalmers and Agriculture Minister Murray Watt to launch an investigation into supermarket meat sale prices and the Dawson MP is now putting the pressure on them to expand that investigation to include fruits and vegetables.


 Treasurer Jim Chalmers said the government expects all companies to treat Australian consumers fairly including in the food and grocery sector.

“As a Government we’re taking a fresh look at the Food and Grocery Code of Conduct to make sure the sector is giving consumers and suppliers a fair deal.

“When the price of meat and fruit and veggies comes down for supermarkets, it should come down for families as well – it’s a big chance for the big supermarkets to do the right thing.”

Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry Murray Watt added, “We’ve been making clear for many months now that retailers should start dropping their prices to reflect the reduction in prices farmers are getting for their produce.

“Farmers deserve a fair price for their hard work and some of the prices supermarkets are charging just don’t pass the pub test.

“While the Government is getting on with taking action on the cost of groceries, the ball is in the court of the big retailers.

“They don’t have to wait until this review is finalised to drop their prices, they can do that right now to help Australian families doing it tough.”

Mr Willcox said the escalating prices are not only impacting family budgets in Dawson it is now starting to impact the health of families living here.


“We’re seeing reports of families bypassing the fresh food section in their local supermarkets altogether and instead opting for cheaper, unhealthy pre-packaged meals.


“We are seeing Queenslanders hospitalised for diet deficiencies so severe that they’re leading to diseases such as scurvy and rickets, and if the cost of fruits and vegetables continue to rise this is only going to get worse.


“The Albanese Labor Government must act before it’s too late. We need to ensure there is an ACCC Inquiry into supermarket price gouging.


“The families and farmers in our electorate of Dawson deserve an urgent response and I am going to do everything I can to make sure that happens.”

The Food and Grocery code is prescribed under the Competition and Consumer Act 2010. Aldi, Coles, Woolworths and Metcash are signatories to the Code and are bound by it.

The Code was introduced to improve standards of business behaviour in the food and grocery sector.

The Code regulates the conduct of these retailers and wholesalers towards suppliers.

Dr Emerson was the Federal Minister for Small Business from 2007-2010 and Minister for Competition Policy and Consumer Affairs from 2009-2010. He was Minister for Trade from 2010-2013. He is a former Queensland Government Director-General and Senior Economic Adviser to Prime Minister Bob Hawke.

A fair go for farmers. Federal Member for Dawson, Andrew Willcox, supports the call for an Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) Inquiry into fruit and vegetable prices, advocating for fair compensation from supermarkets. Photos supplied: Andrew Willcox MP

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