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Monday, 2 March 2015
Page: 1624

Small Business

Mr WYATT (Hasluck) (14:03): My question is to the Prime Minister. Will the Prime Minister advise the House how the government is helping Australian small businesses to get ahead, including by ensuring they get a fair go when dealing with big businesses, and how will this benefit the small businesses of Hasluck?

Mr ABBOTT (WarringahPrime Minister) (14:03): I do thank the member for Hasluck for his important question because the government has established a code of conduct for the grocery sector. Prior to the election we promised to improve relationships in this vital sector and that is exactly what this code of conduct will do. Hard bargaining is expected in all areas of business, but unfair practices should not occur, particularly in a sector which is dominated by some very big businesses. That is why we do need the code of conduct which the Minister for Small Business has announced today. I do want to make it very clear that as far as the government is concerned the big supermarkets of Australia are great businesses. They are world-class businesses that have helped to deliver quality products at competitive prices to Australian consumers. Woolworth and Coles are big businesses because they are good businesses. They are businesses that strive to be ethical as well as simply successful.

But we do not just need world-class retailers. We also need world-class producers and suppliers too, and the big supermarkets need their suppliers just as much as they need their customers. It is important that suppliers get a fair go, just as it is important that consumers get a fair go, and that is exactly what this code of conduct is designed to ensure. It is designed to ensure fair competition between big businesses and their smaller business suppliers in the grocery sector. It is designed to ensure that big businesses cannot use their market power capriciously or arbitrarily against their smaller business suppliers. Now I do stress that I do not think that this happens very often. But it should never happen, and henceforth the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, the ACCC, will be there as the friend of fairness in the supply line as well as in the supermarket itself. This is yet another example of how this government is getting on with the job of doing the right thing by the people of Australia.

Mr Fitzgibbon interjecting

The SPEAKER: The member for Hunter will desist.

Mr ABBOTT: In this case it is trying to ensure that very big businesses and smaller businesses as their suppliers are managing their relationships on a level playing field. I want to thank the Minister for Small Business who has been an indefatigable friend of the small businesses in this sector and shortly will help to deliver a small business tax cut so that small business gets an even fairer go.