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ACCC decision highlights need for temporary ban on all expansion by Coles and Woolworths

Australian Greens spokesperson on competition policy, Senator Peter Whish-Wilson, welcomed the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) announcement yesterday that it would oppose the proposed acquisition by Woolworths Limited (Woolworths) of a supermarket site at Glenmore Ridge in the suburb of Glenmore Park, New South Wales.  It was the first time the ACCC has made such a ruling on a proposed site, rather than an existing supermarket.

“While this decision is good for consumers and competition in that local area, I note and strongly agree with the media comments from ACCC head Rod Sims that this is an “Australia-wide issue”; so therefore we must do more,” Senator Whish-Wilson said.

“The ACCC needs a boost to its powers to ensure a competitive market place across Australia.  The Greens are calling for a temporary ban on all expansion by Coles and Woolworths nationwide while an ex-post assessment can be carried out.

“This temporary ban would give the ACCC a chance to thoroughly scrutinize the effects of their market dominance via an ex-post assessment - a rigorous, back-dated process that would go to the heart of competition policy decisions, including creeping acquisitions, made about the grocery market over the past decade or more.

“We need this temporary ban and ex-post assessment as soon as possible to help level the playing field for small business, consumers, and our farmers as well.

“Labor has had two terms to deliver and hasn’t had the guts to deal with this problem while Tony Abbott is dragging his feet, calling for nothing more than another general review that could take years.

“An ex-post assessment of the grocery market is one part of the competition policy the Greens will announce closer to the Federal Election,” Senator Whish-Wilson concluded.

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