Federal Treasurer Jim Chalmers has put supermarkets on notice, saying they should be passing on price drops in produce to their customers.
As new Treasury analysis was released this week showing wages are growing, but individuals and families are struggling to make ends meet in the current economic climate, Dr Chalmers said the big supermarkets had a role to play.
“We are concerned that when the price for meat and fruit and vegetables at the farm gate goes down, we want to see the price of those goods go down on the supermarket shelves as well,” he said.
“We’ve said that for some time when the price of meat and fruit and veggies comes down for supermarkets, it should come down for families as well.
“This is why we’re having a fresh look at the grocery code. It’s why we’re having a fresh look at our competition laws: we want to make sure that people who are already doing it tough enough get a fair go in the aisles of our supermarkets right around Australia.
“And we have said that before, if the supermarkets are buying it cheaper, they should be selling it cheaper, too. This is of concern to us.”
The Treasurer said he was in regular contact with the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) Chair Gina Cass-Gottlieb about the issue and is looking to determine if action should be taken.
“If further steps are necessary, we will obviously consider them. I think from memory, I’m speaking with her again this week and this is a fairly regular topic of conversation, how we make sure that we’ve got the monitoring arrangements right,” Dr Chalmers said.
“The ACCC monitors prices right across the economy. We want to make sure that that monitoring is right so that people get a fair go.
“But when the price of meat and fruit and veggies goes down for the supermarkets to buy, it should go down for families and pensioners to buy as well.”
While the Federal Government is reviewing the supermarket code of conduct, a Senate inquiry sparked by the Greens is also set to examine price gouging by Coles and Woolworths.
Hearings will begin early in the parliamentary year.
The Federal Opposition, however, says the government must do more.
Nationals leader David Littleproud has called for an ACCC investigation into food price mark-ups he has described as “extraordinary”.
The Treasurer tried to talk up wages growth as an answer to cost-of-living pressures and as a sign of the government’s handling of the economy.
“There is no better way to help people make ends meet than to make sure that we’ve got wages growing again in our economy after a decade of wage stagnation,” he said.
“The new Treasury analysis … shows wages are growing at their fastest pace in 15 years and lowest-paid workers are getting the biggest boosts in pay.
“Wages growth overall in the period we’ve released the numbers about today was 4 per cent overall, but it was 6.7 per cent for the lowest paid and 5 per cent for the second lowest categories.
“What this shows is we’re getting wages moving again overall in our economy, but we are prioritising people on the lowest pay who need the most help.
“We want people who work hard to be able to provide for their loved ones and get ahead and for too long in this country, that was too hard.
“Real wages were falling by something like 3.4 per cent at the election. We’ve seen a couple of quarters now of real wages growth. We want to see more of that.
“Wages growth is absolutely central to our cost-of-living plan, and these new numbers show that we’re making welcome and encouraging progress. But we’ve got much more work to do throughout the course of 2024.”
Original Article published by Chris Johnson on Riotact.