The Australian Greens have introduced a bill in the Australian Senate that would grant divestiture powers to target supermarket duopoly. 

The Competition and Consumer Amendment (Divestiture Powers) Bill 2024 seeks to amend the Competition and Consumer Act 2010. 

If passed, the bill would grant powers to the Court after the Australian Consumer and Competition Commission (ACCC) requests the issuance of orders to reduce a corporation’s power in a particular market or its share in the market.  

The proposed legislation, aimed at curbing the misuse of market power and fostering competition, is a response to concerns over price gouging and the cost-of-living crisis in Australia. 

The bill would enable the ACCC to take action against corporations that are deemed to be inflating prices, exploiting their supply chains or stifling competition.  

This move follows the Greens’ announcement last December to lead a Senate inquiry into the pricing strategies of major supermarkets and their impact on food prices and economic hardship. 

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Earlier this year, the Albanese government commissioned the ACCC to conduct an extensive inquiry into supermarket pricing and competition.  

Greens economic justice spokesperson Senator McKim said: “The giant supermarket corporations have had it their way for far too long. We need to stop supermarket corporations ruthlessly using their market power to gouge prices while raking in billions of dollars in profits. 

“This is not just about supermarkets. Australia has competition issues in many sectors of the economy.” 

“RBA governor Michelle Bullock agrees that some corporations are using a lack of competition and the cover of high inflation to hike prices above what would be required to meet increases in their input costs.”  

“The very existence of divestiture powers will mean that dominant supermarkets, banks or energy companies will think twice about pocketing higher margins and instead pass on savings to their customers.”