Supermarket giants could face competition crackdown
INDEPENDENT grocers could be pushed out of the supermarket game if a key part of the Trade Practices Act is not reinstated, an independent federal senator has argued.
South Australian Senator Nick Xenophon says he plans to resurrect a section of the act, which was abolished in 1995, to help farmers get a decent price for their bread and ensure independent grocers can keep supplying the mainstay of grocery baskets.
The section of the Act, which once prohibited companies' charging different prices to different people for the same product or service, was widely criticised by farmers during a 2011 Senate inquiry into the milk price wars.
In light of new discounts, which have slashed the per-loaf price of bread at Woolworths to 85 cents, Sen Xenophon announced he planned to move a private senators' bill to reinstate the provisions of the act in November.
He said while the low prices might be appealing to consumers, "in the long run it will cripple independent supermarkets who can't access bread at that price from suppliers.
"Whether it's milk, petrol or bread, why shouldn't the competitors of Coles and Woolworths be able to access prices from suppliers at the same cost as the big two?"
"Prohibiting this sort of price discrimination will level the playing field once and for all."
Sen Xenophon, who has been outspoken on the market share of the two leading grocery retailers, said the 1995 repeal of the section was a "big mistake' and needed to be rectified.
- APN NEWSDESK