Independent Senator Jacqui Lambie has accused Coles and Woolworths of acting like a ‘cartel’ and ripping off hard-working Aussies in the lead-up to Christmas.
Federal Agricultural Minister Murray Watt has demanded supermarkets freeze the price of leg ham to give families some certainty ahead of December 25.
It comes as Coles and Woolworths look set to face a parliamentary inquiry into whether they are price gouging to get record profits amid cost of living pressures.
‘Let’s be honest, they are like a bloody cartel,’ Ms Lambie told Sky News.
‘As much as I applaud the Greens for bringing up another inquiry about Coles and Woolies and supermarkets and how cartels work.
‘I simply say to the government, what is stopping you from putting more people into the ACCC to get the job done and give them the power they need to make sure that they can do their job?
‘What is stopping the government, honestly? Where is the Prime Minister?
Independent Senator Jacqui Lambie has accused Coles and Woolworths of acting like a ‘cartel’ and ripping off hard-working Aussies in the lead-up to Christmas
Coles and Woolworths look set to face a parliamentary inquiry into whether they are price gouging to get record profits amid cost of living pressures
Ms Lambie slammed the Labor government for being ‘comatose’ about the cost of living since The Voice referendum failed in October and called for greater powers for the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission.
‘They could fix this and they could fix this today, they could have done this by Christmas, but apparently the cost of living, when it comes to the government or the Labor Party, is not important,’ she said.
‘This is just stupidity on all fronts. Give the ACCC more people, bring in the powers that it needs and let it do it’s goddamn job.’
It comes as Senator Watt sent a stern warning to supermarkets to ‘not profit off hardworking Aussies’ in the lead-up to Christmas.
Supermarkets should put a freeze on the price of leg ham with Christmas being a tough time for those struggling with cost of living pressures, he said in a statement.
‘It’s time for supermarkets to do their part and say one thing we won’t put up is the price of a Christmas ham,’ he said.
Senator Watt said farmers also needed certainty that they would get a fair price from supermarkets.
‘For the average Aussie, it doesn’t make sense that the price on the bottom of their docket is going up while these companies are recording massive profits,’ he said.
Federal Agricultural Minister Murray Watt has demanded supermarkets freeze the price of leg ham to give families some certainty ahead of December 25
‘It’s time for supermarkets to do their part and say one thing we won’t put up is the price of a Christmas ham,’ Senator Watt said in a statement on Monday
The Greens are seeking to establish an inquiry into the impact of market concentration on food prices and the pattern of pricing strategies employed by the supermarket duopoly.
Coles and Woolworths will be in the spotlight as the inquiry scrutinises the increasing cost of essential items, validity of discounts offered and profit inflations.
Greens senator Nick McKim said the major supermarkets had far too much power in Australia for too long.
‘Coles and Woolworths are making billions in profits because they feel that they can overcharge people without repercussions (and) it needs to end,’ he said.
‘We want the CEOs to justify their decisions in a public hearing.’
A Woolworths spokesperson said the company was committed to offering customers value at the same time as it was helping suppliers manage economy-wide inflationary pressures.
‘We know Australians are feeling the strain of cost of living and we are working to deliver relief in their weekly grocery shop,’ the spokesperson said.
The company also flagged promotions on 150 Christmas products that kicked off in October, as well as a deal to lower the price of a half leg of ham to $8 a kilo, its lowest price in nine years.
A Coles spokesperson said the rate of inflation across its goods had been moderating, particularly for staples.
Supermarkets should put a freeze on the price of leg ham with Christmas being a tough time for those struggling with cost of living pressures, Senator Murray Wattt said
‘Having a profitable business means Coles can continue to serve Australians, invest in our stores, employ the 120,000 team members we employ, pay taxes in Australia, pay dividends to our hundreds of thousands of mum and dad shareholders and ensure long-term sustainable relationships with our suppliers,’ the company said.
Nationals Farmers’ Federation chief executive Tony Mahar said an inquiry was urgently needed.
‘Farmers are worried and concerned that the prices they’re getting don’t or aren’t reflected on the supermarket shelves,’ he told Seven’s Sunrise program on Monday.
‘It would be really good to actually examine who’s clipping the ticket across the supply chain, and if there is gouging there, let’s do something about it.’
Nationals leader David Littleproud said a parliamentary inquiry would take too long when action was needed now to address the cost of living.
He has pushed for the consumer watchdog to investigate price gouging