August 27, 2020
Queensland Senator Susan McDonald has urged anyone who has had commercial dealings with big supermarkets to have the courage to tell their stories to the new Federal Government Inquiry and not worry about retribution.
The Federal Government announced the inquiry by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) on Wednesday.
Senator McDonald said she had spoken privately to dozens of producers – including dairy, pork, herbs and poultry – who claimed they had been bullied by supermarket chains and their agents into accepting unfair contracts.
“These producers thought they’d hit the jackpot when first signing up to supply supermarkets, and they invested to expand their operations,” she said.
“But in subsequent contract negotiations, I have been told they were offered new terms including supplying more produce for the same money, or even less money while the retail price was unchanged.
“After investing in expansion, they had to accept the new terms in order to service debts, mainly because the market has few buyers and there is no affordable avenue for appeal.
“To make things worse, these people were too worried about losing their contracts to speak out, so this behaviour by the supermarkets has been allowed to run unchecked.
“Every day, supermarkets virtue signal about how ethical they are by selling dolphin-free tuna, Fair Trade coffee and RSPCA-approved chickens, but when it comes to treating Australian farmers ethically, they show a commercial cold-heartedness that drives out farming families.”
Senator McDonald said the inquiry would allow witnesses to give evidence confidentially.
“This means farmers can provide evidence of harmful practices without the fear of punishment and retribution by the major supermarkets,” she said.
- Related article: Supermarkets Go Under Microscope