The interim report of the Royal Commission into the Australian banking sector was released last week and is evidence of long-term corporate bullying. What it also tells us is that we do have a system whereby even the most powerful companies can be brought to account for unfair practices.
While Llew O’Brien’s call for a Royal Commission into Supermarkets was made based on evidence of the underhanded tactics that Coles and Woolworths have used against the proposed 10 cent/litre Drought Levy, rumours of bullying have been around for a number of years. It doesn’t take a genius to guess that threats to reduce shelf space of branded product if private label contracts are not met, is being applied across the board.
In Australia, we have only a handful of dairy processors, all of whom rely on contracts with the big supermarket chains to remain profitable. We don’t expect the processors not to make money; they are a business as are the dairy farmers that supply to them. It is a case of ensuring everyone can have a sustainable future.
Though dairy is the only industry which has had a cap placed on its retail price for the last 7 years, it would be a surprise if other suppliers, in particular, those whose products have a finite shelf life, are not forced into unfair contractual agreements.
Now, we can only hope that firstly, the Royal Commission is approved by parliament and secondly, that all suppliers – be it meat, eggs, fruit and vegetables, dairy and even packaged goods come forward. Only with strong evidence across all sectors will the supermarkets be made accountable.
It has been over a week since O’Brien called for the Commission and as yet, nothing has come to fruition. We urge the public to push their local members – federal and state to get it enacted so we can stop the supermarkets dictating the supply chain.
Queensland Dairyfarmers' Organisation
QDO President Brian Tessmann