Albanese calls in ACCC for inquiry into supermarket pricing

Speaking today at the National Press Club, Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has announced the ACCC will conduct a 12-month inquiry into supermarkets and price gouging.

The inquiry, which will be directed by Treasurer Jim Chalmers, comes as major supermarket chains Coles and Woolworths have been under public scrutiny for increasing their margins during a cost of living crisis.

It follows the establishment of the Senate’s Select Committee on Supermarkets Prices in December, lead by The Greens.

However, rising public sentiment over supermarket pricing has not yet seemed to tangibly harm the major grocery brands, with Woolworths last week named Australia’s most valuable brand in the 2024 Brand Finance Australia 100. Coles placed fourth.

“The ACCC has significant powers – and it is the best and most effective body to investigate supermarket prices,” said Albanese.

“When farmers are selling their product for less, supermarkets should charge Australians less.”

In a statement, ACCC chair Gina Cass-Gottlieb said: “We know grocery prices have become a major concern for the millions of Australians experiencing cost of living pressures.

“When it comes to fresh produce, we understand that many farmers are concerned about weak correlation between the price they receive for their produce and the price consumers pay at the checkout.

“We will use our full range of legal powers to conduct a detailed examination of the supermarket sector, and where we identify problems or opportunities for improvement, we will carefully consider what recommendations we can make to Government.”

The announcement came as the Prime Minister addressed the nation for the first time this year, detailing the government’s plans for stage three tax cuts due to come into effect at the end of the financial year.

He commenced his speech by underlining that cost of living was his number one priority, outlining an updated plan that will make “middle Australia” the greatest beneficiary of the proposed tax cuts.

Under the changes, the lowest tax bracket will be reduced from 19 cents on the dollar to 16 cents, while middle income earners will now pay 30 cents on the dollar for income up to $135,000.

Incomes of more than $135,001 will fall into the second highest tax bracket, which will remain at 37 cents on the dollar, with the top tax bracket for earnings over $190,001 also remaining stable at 45 cents.

According to Albanese, “the average wage in Australia is $73,000”, making for a tax cut of over $1,500 a year.

“More than double what they would have gone under the plan put forward by Scott Morrison,” said Albanese.

He continued: “For a family on the average household income which is around $130,000 with one partner earning 80000 and the other 50,000, their combined tax cut will be over $2600.”

The Government’s latest efforts to address the cost of living crisis comes as it also grapples with the future of the public broadcaster, which has made headlines frequently in recent months.

Kim Williams was yesterday named as the replacement for outgoing ABC Chair Ita Buttrose,

Speaking on this week’s Mumbrellacast, Mumbrella publisher Adam Lang said Williams had proven to be a “very audience focused” leader.

“He knows he needs to run the business to focus on the audience need,” he said.

““There’s no chance in my mind that this is going to be nothing to see here, situation normal, no noise. There’s going to be change. I do foresee that that is the most likely scenario.”

For more on Williams appointment, you can listen to the latest Mumbrellacast episode here.


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