Matamata Chronicle

In the blue corner

- Stuart Smith Kaikoura MP, National

The Commerce Commission releasing their report into the duopoly in New Zealand supermarke­ts is long overdue, and I welcome their findings.

Resetting the framework in which new supermarke­t or grocery chains can enter New Zealand is exactly what we need to do, and removing the various barriers to do this should be encouraged.

The likes of the Overseas Investment Office and the tight zoning laws are all restrictio­ns which need to be eased in order for overseas grocery companies to open up in New Zealand.

Internatio­nal retailers like Aldi and Lidl may well be keen to enter the New Zealand market, but it’s simply not worth their time and energy when we have such draconian restrictio­ns on new entities entering the country and supplying goods.

The underlying reason that the price of butter is up 35 per cent and the price of eggs are up 33 per cent since 2018, isn’t just down to our supermarke­t duopoly. The core issue fuelling increased prices of groceries and other essential goods is the growth in inflation due to poor fiscal management by this Government.

In the past 12 months it has got significan­tly worse, and Kiwi’s are feeling the pinch. Prices are rising twice as fast as wages and the average Kiwi family is worse off than they were a year ago. The cost of living crisis that we are currently facing is becoming truly dire. We have parents who need to decide whether or not to fill their car up, or buy essential groceries.

People are struggling to pay their rent and students are having to work multiple jobs to try and keep their head above water.

This is not the New Zealand we want, where we are forced to make decisions on which necessitie­s we can afford and which we have to go without.

New Zealand needs to be seen as being ‘open for business’ to the outside world. We are now very much at the tail end of the pandemic, and how the Government react to this will determine how comfortabl­e, or not, many New Zealanders lifestyles are going to be in the next five to ten years.

The lack of competitio­n in the supermarke­t sector needs to be fixed and a more competitiv­e and dynamic grocery sector would be of huge benefit to New Zealanders. The Commerce Commission have proposed well-balanced recommenda­tions, but the cost of living crisis facing Kiwis is actually the real killer.

Budget 2022 is only two months away, and the Government needs to look Kiwis in the eye and explain why they are paying so much for groceries and what they will do about it, rather putting sole blame on a duopoly which has been around for years.

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