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Senate Committee investigating supermarket price gouging rolls into Orange

A Senate Select Committee investigating supermarket price gouging will continue its public
hearing in Orange today.
The Committee, which includes The Nationals Senator Ross Cadell, will hear from NSW
Farmers, orchard farmers, Cattle Australia, Dairy Connect, Macquarie River Food and Fibre
and Greenlife Industry Australia.
Leader of The Nationals David Littleproud has welcomed the ongoing investigation and said
Labor needed to act quickly and take the submissions seriously.
“Problems with greedy supermarkets are deep-seated but the Labor Government has been
too slow to act on issues they were warned about by The Nationals as far back as 2022,” Mr
Littleproud said.
“While The Nationals welcome today’s inquiry, we began calling for the Australian
Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) to investigate price gouging last year.
“If Labor had taken our advice back then, shoppers could have seen changes in supermarket
behaviour before Christmas. What’s important now is to hear from those being impacted
and make sure we can make improvements as quickly as possible.”
Orange-based former cherry farmer Michael Cunial quit the industry this year, after losing
substantial money on seven deliveries to the major supermarkets, including one delivery of
15 tonnes of cherries where he expected to receive $90,000 but ended up getting just
$5800 on the seconds market.
He claims his product was rejected for no good reason and mostly because Coles and
Woolworths have the power to low-ball farmers and dictate the price, knowing hundreds of
other farmers are competing to sell to them.
“We have had plenty of talkfests but it’s time for some action,” Mr Cunial said.
“I have now left the industry – it just got too hard and the risk for reward is not there
anymore. Growers take all the risk and don’t get the just reward for it.”
Orange-based cherry and apple farmer Guy Gaeta will speak at the public hearing and call
for fairness for farmers and families.
“Michael Cunial is one of the lucky ones, he got out,” Mr Gaeta said.
“I’ve been in Orange for 38 years and over the past 30 years I’ve seen about 200 farmers
walk away with nothing, after working and selling their crops every day. People don’t
understand how ruthless the supermarkets are.
“Just to sell a zucchini it has to be perfectly straight – pretty soon they will expect bananas to be straight, believe me.”
National Farmers’ Federation Horticulture Council member Jeremy Griffith also told the
Committee that many growers had not received price increases in 15 years.
He said growers were held to ransom, while the duopoly of Coles and Woolworths led to
“predatory buying behaviours” and a “licence to print money”.
Mr Griffith echoed calls by The Nationals for the ACCC to be given “dramatically increased
powers”, including the ability to penalise individuals and organisations, as well as divestiture
powers to break up supermarkets.
The Nationals New South Wales Senator Ross Cadell pointed out it was disappointing the
Prime Minister had already ruled out divestiture powers even though the inquiry was still
hearing from growers.
“The inquiry in Orange that I am part of today is important because prices impacting farmers
ultimately end up impacting prices at the checkout,” Senator Cadell said.
“The Nationals will continue to fight for fairness for both farmers and families.
“Labor says it cares about the cost of food yet it is also determined to push ahead with a
new fresh food tax, in the form of a biosecurity levy, which will force Australian farmers to
pay for the biosecurity costs of international importers.”

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