Australian Greens spokesperson for competition and small business, Senator Peter Whish-Wilson, announced the Greens' plan to tackle big supermarket dominance ahead of today's public symposium on Supermarket Power in Australia sponsored by Monash University and the Melbourne University Law School.
"Our plan tackles the supermarket duopoly nationally, ensures fair competition for farmers and small business, and reforms competition policy so it serves the interests of the Tasmanian community, not just big business," Senator Peter Whish-Wilson said.
"Competition policy in the supermarket space is not an abstract notion for me; I see how it plays out every day in Tasmania - whether that be for farmers or small business owners.
"Tasmanian farmers play a crucial role in providing agricultural products and food yet the supermarket duopoly is in a position to abuse their power in the marketplace to demand lower prices from producers.
"These demands are threatening the viability of many farms, however because of the duopoly's dominance there are few other options for farmers to sell their produce.
"This morning AUSVEG, the National Peak Industry Body representing Australia's vegetable growers, welcomed a number of the initiatives outlined in the Greens' Competition Policy I announced today.
"In terms of the impact on small business, Master Grocers Australia - who are also here in Melbourne today and continue to play a constructive role in this debate - released a report entitled ‘Let's have fair competition' a year ago.
"They used my home town of Launceston as a case study and in an area that services 100,000 people there are now four Woolworth and six Coles supermarkets all within a circle with a five km radius.
"The barrier to entry for any type of business that wants to compete with the major supermarkets in Launceston is enormous.
"So far it appears the old parties won't stand up to big business and tackle the supermarket duopoly to ensure fairer competition and address community concerns.
The Greens' plan outlines a number of initiatives including preventing the supermarket duopoly from purchasing agricultural land, placing a temporary ban on expansion by Coles and Woolworths, and providing the ACCC an extra $100m over the forward estimates to increase the number of legal cases they are able to pursue.
"Stopping the supermarket duopoly from purchasing agricultural land is vital to ensure they aren't able to completely control the whole supply chain.
"The temporary ban on expansion by the major supermarkets 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.
"And adding $100m to the ACCC legal war-chest over the forward estimates gives the competition watchdog the teeth that it needs.
"Consumers, local businesses, farmers, and food manufacturers all have concerns over the domination of Coles and Woolworths in the market place.
"The Greens have always advocated consistent positions in relation to the risks of Australia's supermarket duopoly, we have worked with a number of stakeholders on our policy positions and will be seeking cross party support for these reforms in a new parliament," Senator Whish-Wilson concluded.
Read more about the Greens' plan to tackle the supermarket duopoly: http://peter-whish-wilson.greensmps.org.au/campaigns/tackling-supermarket-duopoly
And read our detailed brief: http://peter-whish-wilson.greensmps.org.au/sites/default/files/effective_competition_policy.pdf