Greens’ Bill Deemed Extreme, Backers in Australian House of Representatives Pushing for Approval

Duoploy of the Coles and Woolworths Supermarket.

The leading Liberal member of the House of Representatives economic committee has expressed support for the breakup of large corporations, as the Coalition grapples with the Greens’ proposal to dismantle the duopoly held by major supermarkets.

While the Nationals have publicly endorsed the Greens’ proposed divestiture powers bill, which would authorize the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) and the courts to compel corporations like Woolworths and Coles to divest assets if they become too dominant and wield excessive market influence, the stance of Opposition Leader Peter Dutton remains unclear.

Australian Competition and Consumer Commission Promotional (Credits: ACCC)

However, Dutton has previously acknowledged concerns about the duopoly of supermarkets and emphasized the need for an effective competition policy to ensure consumers receive value for money and farmers are not exploited.

The Greens’ legislation primarily targets supermarket giants but could be extended to other firms to prevent price inflation or the exploitation of supply chains to suppress competition.

Critics, including the Business Council of Australia, have condemned the bill as granting “extreme powers” and argue it fails to address ongoing issues examined by the ACCC inquiry into supermarkets or the review of the Food and Grocery Code of Conduct led by former Labor minister Craig Emerson.

Despite opposition from the business council, Liberal MP Garth Hamilton, the deputy chair of the economics committee, has expressed support for divestiture powers, stating, “If big business is opposed to the government holding divestiture powers, then I’m for it.”

Parliment House (Credits: Australian House of Representatives)

The Greens’ proposal would empower the ACCC to seek court orders requiring companies to divest assets if they misuse market power to inflate prices, exploit supply chains, or hinder competition.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese and Assistant Minister for Competition Andrew Leigh have refrained from endorsing divestment powers publicly but emphasized the importance of robust competition measures in Australia’s private sector economy.

Nationals MPs Keith Pitt and Michael McCormack have aligned with party leader David Littleproud in endorsing the Greens’ bill, asserting their longstanding advocacy for divestiture powers to ensure fair pricing for farmers.

In response, Greens senator Nick McKim criticized the Business Council of Australia for defending what he termed “price gouging” by major supermarkets and accused Labor of failing to support efforts to combat corporate profiteering.

Josh Linardos
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