HomeFoodCoalition planning a 'big stick' to keep supermarkets in line

Coalition planning a ‘big stick’ to keep supermarkets in line

The proposal to break up the supermarket duopoly is gaining support, with the Coalition discussing a ‘big stick’ law to curb their market power.

Coles and Woolworths are currently under scrutiny from the Australian Consumer and Competition Commission (ACCC) over their domination of market share. The Greens have introduced a bill into parliament calling for the duopoly to be broken up.

According to The Sydney Morning Herald (SMH), Coalition backbenchers have been lobbying the leadership to act over the cost-of-living crisis and they are in ‘advanced talks’ on divestiture laws.

Details remain sketchy, but the SMH says the proposal is ‘likely’ to include court-enforced divestiture of assets as a last resort. The laws would not be economy-wide and would only target supermarkets.

Nationals leader David Littleproud said there were issues with the Greens bill to break up the supermarkets, and his party had instead struck a deal with the Liberals to draft an alternative proposal that implemented safeguards around divestiture.

Greens’ bill ‘deficient’

“The bill that the Greens put in place was deficient in design,” he told Seven’s Sunrise.

“We’re very proud of the fact that Peter [Dutton] and the Liberals want to work through this to make sure there are no unintended consequences and there’s fairness in prices from the farm gate to your plate.”

The Coalition says similar laws are in place for the energy market but have never been used.

Former minister Matt Canavan has vowed to cross the floor to support the Greens proposal to break up large companies, stating he did not care who put up the proposal. 

“I care about the small businesses and farmers that get screwed by unethical and unrestrained corporate conduct,” Senator Canavan said.

This is all well and good, and gets their name in the papers, but a policy proposal is a long way from being law.

The Coalition recognises that the two things consumers love ‘bashing’ are banks and supermarkets. They got their way with the Bank Closures in Regional Australia Senate inquiry, so are now grabbing some headlines with the supermarkets. 

Labor refusing to be drawn

Labor is remaining much more cautious. 

Assistant competition minister Andrew Leigh said the government would wait for the ACCC to hand down its report, but previous competition inquiries failed to recommend divestiture.

“The National Farmers Federation have argued against divestiture and the ACTU have made the point that it could potentially hurt workers, so we’re sceptical,” he told ABC’s Radio National on Monday.

“We don’t see that as being a significant tool in the fight against market concentration,” he said.

This week’s best specials


Sensible: KitchenAid Ovenware deal. Use your points to score these great cooking collectables. I loathe and detest all that plastic rubbish supermarkets try to foist on us with their points deals, but these are actually useful and good quality. Score!

Indulgence: Finish Rinse Aid, half price $5.25. Never pay full price for rinse aid. It rarely goes on a half-price deal, but unless you are an overly enthusiastic user of your dishwasher you need so little of it you can usually hang out until goes on special again.

See the catalogue here.


Sensible: Home health care special buys. A great range of mobility and dexterity aids at excellent prices. From wheelchairs to support cushions to walking sticks. Bit offended Aldi has included shopping trolleys in this line, though. That’s an everyday item for me.  

Indulgence: Bulk food sale. So many to choose from here. Fancy two kilos of dill pickles? Well you’re in luck this week. Also available, 3.4kg of kalamata olives, 1.9kg of pepper strips and Mini Oreo 80-pack multi-pack. I’m going to think about what you can do with 3.4kg of olives for the rest of the day.

See the catalogue here.


Sensible: Pataks simmer sauces, $4. We’re coming up to slow cooker season, so it makes sense to have the ingredients ready to go. You’ll be surprised how happy you’ll be to find these lurking in your pantry come winter.

Indulgence: Lemnos Haloumi, $5.60. Love this cheese grilled, baked or fried. Take your toastie to the next level or add some zing to a salad. If you haven’t used it before, time to explore now. It seems pricey, but you only need a little to add a load of flavour.

See the catalogue here.


Sensible: OMO liquid 1L or 1kg powder, half price $8.50. Never pay full price for washing powder or liquid. I can guarantee at least one brand will be on sale every week. Please consider landfill and try to opt for the powder as cardboard will break down relatively quickly as opposed to plastic.

Indulgence: Cadbury drinking chocolate, 250g, $3.95. Expect more winter specials as the weather cools. Not the best drinking chocolate out there, but if you go through a lot this special helps.

See the catalogue here.

Do you think the supermarket duopoly will be broken up? Or is it all just politicians’ hot air? Why not share your opinion in the comments section below?

Also read: Australia’s biggest chemist is merging with a wholesaler. Could we soon be paying more?

Jan Fisher
Jan Fisherhttp://www.yourlifechoices.com.au/author/JanFisher
Accomplished journalist, feature writer and sub-editor with impressive knowledge of the retirement landscape, including retirement income, issues that affect Australians planning and living in retirement, and answering YLC members' Age Pension and Centrelink questions. She has also developed a passion for travel and lifestyle writing and is fast becoming a supermarket savings 'guru'.


  1. No I don’t think the duopoly will be broken up. Labor has other plans and the Coalition is always full of hot air so they will never do it.
    They need to be brought into line though and treat suppliers and consumers more honestly.
    Too many “specials” that are not true specials and the shrinking of packaging but not the price are deceptive and an insult to their customers.
    Also their policy of leaving shop lifters alone is inflationary because all the honest people have to pay for the dishonest ones.

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