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ECONOMICS—GROCERY RETAILING SECTOR

Senator Milne, pursuant to notice of motion not objected to as a formal motion, moved general business notice of motion no. 618—That the Senate—

 (a) notes:

  (i) the failure of the Government to adopt the recommendations of the Economics References Committee, which were supported by members of four political parties and Senator Xenophon, for reinstating specific legislative provisions on price discrimination, tightening legislation to inhibit firms achieving market power through takeovers and calling on the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) to conduct further study into the increasing shares of the grocery market being taken by the generic products of the major supermarket chains,

  (ii) the Government's refusal to contemplate improvements to the current competition laws on the basis that these laws have not been adequately tested in the courts,

  (iii) that Coles has announced large cuts in the prices of some fruit and vegetables, and

  (iv) that bodies such as Ausveg, the National Farmers' Federation, the Tasmanian Farmers and Graziers Association and the Council of Small Business of Australia have expressed concern about the impact on farmers and small retailers if these price cuts are sustained; and

 (b) calls on the Government to:

  (i) direct the Productivity Commission to report on the effectiveness of competition policy in the grocery retailing sector,

  (ii) direct the ACCC to update its 2008 report on competition in the grocery industry, with particular reference to the market power of the two largest retail chains, the impact of their increasing use of generic product lines and the impact of large cuts in the price of specific food items on the viability of Australian farmers,

  (iii) direct the ACCC to examine and report on the extent to which the cuts in fruit and vegetable prices initiated by Coles in early 2012 are affecting the prices of other goods sold by the major supermarket chains, their profits, the prices they pay their suppliers and the farmgate prices received by Australian farmers, and

  (iv) ensure that the ACCC is encouraged and adequately funded to bring matters before the courts that would lead to the current competition laws being adequately tested.

Question put.


The Senate divided—

AYES, 11

Senators—

Brown, Bob

Di Natale

Hanson-Young

Ludlam

Madigan

Milne

Rhiannon

Siewert (Teller)

Waters

Wright

Xenophon

NOES, 49

Senators—

Arbib

Bernardi

Bilyk

Birmingham

Bishop

Boyce

Brown, Carol

Bushby

Cameron

Carr

Colbeck

Collins

Conroy

Crossin

Edwards

Eggleston

Farrell

Faulkner

Fawcett

Feeney

Fierravanti-Wells

Fifield

Fisher

Furner

Gallacher

Humphries

Kroger (Teller)

Ludwig

Lundy

Marshall

Mason

McEwen

McKenzie

McLucas

Moore

Parry

Payne

Polley

Pratt

Ryan

Scullion

Sherry

Singh

Sinodinos

Stephens

Sterle

Thistlethwaite

Williams

Wong

Question negatived.

Statements by leave: Senators Williams and Xenophon, by leave, made statements relating to the motion.