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Monday, 2 March 2015
Page: 1617

Ms HENDERSON (Corangamite) (13:40): Small business is the engine room of our economy, and so important in rural and regional Australia to jobs, families and the prosperity of country communities. That is why our government has instituted the Harper review into competition policy. That is why we are fighting the petrol companies which are inflicting unfair fuel prices, or more correctly price gouging, in places like Colac. That is why we are tackling food labelling. That is why I am advocating new measures to combat price discrimination so that small businesses are not forced to the wall by the extraordinary market power, or the abuse of that market power, by the likes of the large supermarkets. We have seen some disgraceful unconscionable conduct from Coles making illegal demands for rebates from suppliers. I have been contacted about similarly unconscionable conduct from Woolworths.

Congratulations to the Minister for Small Business, Bruce Billson, who has today announced a new Food and Grocery Code of Conduct to ensure fair and transparent commercial dealings between retailers, wholesalers and suppliers in the Australian grocery sector. The code will require minimum standards of behaviour when dealing with suppliers, a prohibition against threatening suppliers, and an obligation to enter into grocery supply agreements in writing. In contrast to the Labor Party, which was not prepared to tackle these hard issues, this is yet one more example of how we are standing up for small businesses, for family enterprises, for jobs and regional Australia.