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Australian Greens Push For Divestiture Powers To Tackle Supermarket Giants

In a bid to reign in the power of major supermarket chains and address concerns over unfair practices against both customers and suppliers, the Australian Greens are set to introduce divestiture powers in the Senate this week. 

These proposed laws would empower the government to intervene and potentially break up food retail giants like Coles and Woolworths.

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The move, supported by some Nationals and independent senators, aims to promote “big stick” laws.

Greens senator Nick McKim said supermarket giants have enjoyed undue advantage for too long, resulting in inflated prices for consumers and undue pressure on suppliers. 

“We need to stop supermarket corporations ruthlessly using their market power to gouge prices while raking in billions of dollars in profits,” Mr McKim said.

Similar laws are already in place in various other countries including the United Kingdom, United States, Ireland, Italy, and the Netherlands. 

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These measures are designed to ensure fair competition across different sectors, not just in the realm of food retail.

Mr McKim said Coles and Woolworths’s market domination had enabled them to “crush farmers, squeeze out the competition and shaft their customers”.

“We need to stop supermarket corporations ruthlessly using their market power to gouge prices while raking in billions of dollars in profits,” he added.

 In response, the retailers have defended their practices, claiming they strive to balance fair prices for producers and affordable options for consumers.

However, mounting pressure from both government inquiries and external investigations suggests that concerns over the conduct of these supermarket giants are not unfounded. 

An ongoing parliamentary inquiry is examining the Food and Grocery Code of Conduct, which regulates the relationship between supermarkets and suppliers.

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