NOT SO SUPER MARKET: Renewed call for inquiry
FOLLOWING a colleague's in-principle support for expanding divestiture powers to the major supermarkets, Member for Page Kevin Hogan has reiterated his call for a royal commission.
The MP again called for a royal commission into "alleged market abuse of our large supermarkets" following his National Party colleague Keith Pitt's comments on divestiture powers earlier in the week.
Mr Hogan said the commission was necessary because of what he had heard from farmers and processors in the wider community.
"The allegations of misuse of market power, unconscionable conduct and the use of unfair contract terms must be investigated by a royal commission," he said.
"A royal commission is the body with the greatest and most sweeping powers to investigate issues. Its recommendations are also more binding on the government."
The issue was raised up after Mr Pitt's comments on forced divestiture of assets, which formed part of the Federal Government's "big stick" energy plan.
Mr Pitt thought those powers could be expanded beyond the energy sector and wanted to have a national conversation on curbing the power of large companies, such as the Coles and Woolworths duopoly.
"We know that this type of legislation is used in other countries like the US, Britain and other major economies around the world, so I think it's time to have the debate here in Australia," he said.
"I think we should be looking at how the divestiture powers could apply across the economy but we need to start with the electricity."
While Mr Hogan stopped short of endorsing his colleague's comments, he said there was evidence the "big stick" approach to the energy industry was having an effect.
"The threat of the 'big stick' is already working," he said.
"More than 500,000 Australians are getting a better deal, with many energy companies lowering prices by up to 15 per cent from January 1."
In December Mr Hogan introduced a notice of motion calling for a royal commission into market domination of the major supermarket retailers and petrol prices.
The motion received a lukewarm response from colleagues and Labor candidate Patrick Deegan labelled it a publicity stunt but the Page MP has not backed down.
At the time he said in a number of cases the major retailers behaved like bullies towards their suppliers and some of their practices were comparable to that of the major banks.
"I think the behaviour of the major supermarkets is up there, if not worse, than the behaviour of the major banks," Mr Hogan said.