Call for su­per­mar­ket probe

Taranaki Daily News - - National News Politics - Henry Cooke

The Green Party is call­ing on the Gov­ern­ment to use a new law to in­ves­ti­gate su­per­mar­kets after petrol com­pa­nies.

Prime Min­is­ter Jacinda Ardern has promised to rush through a new law al­low­ing the Com­merce Com­mis­sion to con­duct wide-rang­ing mar­ket stud­ies, by which it can com­pel com­pa­nies to pro­vide in­for­ma­tion.

She has said she nom­i­nates petrol com­pa­nies to be the first to be in­ves­ti­gated, but would not rule out su­per­mar­kets be­ing next, say­ing there was a lot of in­ter­est in other ar­eas around the cost of liv­ing.

Green MP Gareth Hughes said su­per­mar­kets were the per­fect in­dus­try to be looked at next – or even at the same time as fuel prices were in­ves­ti­gated.

‘‘It could per­haps run con­cur­rently – or at least as the next cab off the rank,’’ Hughes said.

New Zealand’s su­per­mar­ket space is dom­i­nated by two huge com­pa­nies: Pro­gres­sive En­ter­prises, which owns Count­down, and Food­stuffs, which owns New World, Pak ’n Save and Four Square.

‘‘The fact is when you only have two play­ers, the com­pe­ti­tion isn’t as vig­or­ous. ‘‘A study last year found Ki­wis were pay­ing 37 per cent more for a stan­dard bas­ket of food items than Aus­tralians, and I think the du­op­oly is part of the rea­son for that,’’ Hughes said.

‘‘It’s been de­scribed as cosy.

‘‘We now see al­le­ga­tions on land bank­ing in the me­dia to sti­fle com­pe­ti­tion.’’

In 2014, the Green Party drafted a bill that would en­sure su­per­mar­kets fol­lowed a code of con­duct as they do in Aus­tralia.

Hughes said the code of con­duct had en­abled much bet­ter com­pe­ti­tion in Aus­tralia, point­ing to a 2009 change that had stopped the two main su­per­mar­ket chains en­joy­ing a monopoly in malls.

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