A goal for the level playing field

19 Nov 09 12:41PM EST
Post by Nick Stace
200910_nickstace
On Wednesday evening the report by the Senate Economics Committee into Grocery CHOICE was published. The Inquiry recommendations are important to CHOICE in vindicating our position and re-affirming the need for change in the grocery sector.

CHOICE wants a more competitive grocery market; in truth it would be hard for it to be less competitive than it is at the moment. Nearly 80 per cent of the market is dominated by Coles and Woolworths and the majority of independents are supplied by the same supplier, Metcash.

The market means we pay higher prices than equivalent nations as evidenced by the recent OECD figures. Farmers’ prices are squeezed, independents find it difficult to compete and - to top it all - the government and the regulator are moving so slowly, things will likely get worse on their watch.

The challenge I have set at CHOICE is to build a national consensus for change, working with consumers, farmers, independents and those in politics who are willing to side with the majority of hard-working Australians. This is not the time for timid actions, bureaucratic responses and tired rhetoric around Australia being different; it is the time for a bold strategy for change.

Since I arrived in Australia at the start of this year I have been talking about the high prices of groceries here and the need to tackle a culture that has normalised anti-competitive behaviour. That message has been well received by the majority of Australians and treated with contempt and obstruction by the big two supermarkets.

There are moments in time when things come together, when a mindset is released from a resignation that nothing will ever change. I believe we can seize that moment now and realise the potential of our collective action. I urge you to join us. 
 

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