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Grocery Pricing

7 February 2024

Adjourned debate on motion of Hon. R.A. Simms:

1. That a select committee be established to inquire and report on grocery pricing in South Australia with particular reference to:

(a) the trends in grocery pricing in South Australia, compared to other states in Australia and internationally;

(b) the disparities in grocery pricing between metropolitan and regional areas;

(c) the impact of high grocery prices on consumers, particularly for those on low incomes;

(d) the relationship between wholesale prices paid to farmers and the retail price paid by consumers;

(e) the prevalence of food insecurity in South Australia;

(f) the prevalence of price gouging practices and anti-competitive behaviour among grocery retailers and the impact on consumers;

(g) factors contributing to high grocery prices;

(h) potential opportunities for further regulation of grocery retailers and opportunities for state government intervention; and

(i) any other related matters.

2. That this council permits the select committee to authorise the disclosure or publication, as it sees fit, of any evidence or documents presented to the committee prior to such evidence being presented to the council.

The Hon. R.A. SIMMS (18:19): I want to thank all members who have participated in this debate: the Hon. Connie Bonaros, the Hon. Nicola Centofanti, the Hon. Ms Game, the Hon. Frank Pangallo, the Hon. Ben Hood and the Hon. Mr Ngo. I think it is really welcome to see that this chamber is taking this issue seriously and there seems to be a consensus across this chamber of parliament that this is an important issue for us to deal with. We certainly welcome that in the Greens.

It is, as has been observed by other speakers, a really important and timely issue for the parliament to deal with. Indeed, just this week new data has come out from the Australian Bureau of Statistics that actually demonstrates that Adelaide not only leads the nation when it comes to inflation but also leads the nation when it comes to the prices of food and non-alcoholic beverages. We have seen in Adelaide a 16 per cent increase in the cost of food and non-alcoholic beverages over the last three years—that is ahead of every other capital city in the country. I think it is important for the South Australian parliament to look into this matter.

As has been observed, there is a real issue also with respect to the prices being paid to farmers and local producers for their goods. They are being dudded, and that is happening at a time when you have big corporations like Coles and Woolies making record profits, ripping off consumers in the middle of a cost-of-living crisis. I really hope that this inquiry can hold those big corporations to account, hold their feet to the fire and really expose some of the price gouging practices.

I might just briefly indicate the Greens' position on the amendments. The government has reached out to me regarding their amendments. We are happy to accommodate those in order to get this committee over the line. I am aware of the amendments that the Liberal Party have put forward. I guess of concern to me is the fact that the Liberal amendment seeks to remove the potential for the committee to consider options for regulation, and I see that as being a key action point for the committee. It is important to shine a light on what is going on, but we need to insert some verbs in there as well and actually look at what we can do. The potential for regulation, I think, is important, so for that reason we will not be supporting the Liberal Party amendment. As I indicate, we will support the government's amendments.