Motion passes for Senate inquiry into supermarket price gouging

The CEOs of Woolworths and Coles have insisted they will front an inquiry that will look into price gouging during Australia’s cost of living crisis after the motion passed the Senate.

First flagged this past weekend, the Senate Select Committee on Supermarket Prices will now be established and will examine the costs and revenues of Woolworths and Coles which both reported profits of over $1 billion earlier this year.

In a statement sent to Mumbrella today, Woolworths CEO Brad Banducci said he will front the inquiry, which the supermarket chain expects will take place in the first quarter of 2024.

“We are very aware of the pressures facing many Australian families,” Banducci said.

“We welcome the opportunity to explain to the Senate how we are working to balance the needs of our customers, our team and our suppliers in the context of economy-wide inflationary pressure.

“As we have done at several inquiries this year, we will openly and constructively assist the parliament with its work on this important topic.

“We are proud to directly employ 180,000 team members in Australia and support the livelihoods of 18,000 suppliers in the communities we serve.”

The latest inquiry is the third examining supermarket pricing, as there are currently two others still active in the Federal Parliament – the Cost of Living inquiry, which is not due to report until 31 May 2024 and and an inquiry into promoting economic dynamism, competition, and business formation.

In a separate statement to Mumbrella, Coles CEO Leah Weckert also confirmed she will appear at next year’s inquiry.

“We know cost-of-living pressures are front of mind for many Australians and we are working hard to keep prices affordable for Australian households,” Weckert said.

“We have worked collaboratively with previous inquiries and are ready to work with the Committee and engage in an informed discussion on the factors that influence supermarket pricing.”

Earlier this week, Greens Economic Justice Spokesperson, Senator Nick McKim, said Coles and Woolworths have had too much market power for far too long.

“This allows them to dictate prices and terms that are hitting people hard. It’s time to smash the duopoly,” McKim said.

“Coles and Woolworths are making billions in profits because they feel that they can overcharge people without repercussions. It needs to end.”


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