SKY NEWSDAY WITH KIERAN GILBERT
THURSDAY, 29 FEBRUARY 2024
SUBJECTS: Australian Competition and Consumer Commission inquiry into supermarkets; impact of Albanese Government’s bigger tax cuts for more Australians.
KIERAN GILBERT, HOST: Assistant Minister for Competition and Treasury, Andrew Leigh. Great to see you. This stunt yesterday by Andrew Wilkie and Bob Katter. They're calling for a divestment by the two major supermarkets. Is that possible? Can you force that?
ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR CHARITIES, COMPETITION, TREASURY AND EMPLOYMENT ANDREW LEIGH: We're not looking at divestment powers, Kieran. Where they exist in other countries, they're very rarely used. They're not one of the major tools you use for getting better prices for consumers. Instead, we're kicking off this supermarkets inquiry through the ACCC; the first such inquiry to be conducted in 16 years. The ACCC has just put out its issues paper looking at issues ranging from shrinkflation to discounting…Read more
FRESH AND FAIR COMPETITION
National Farmers’ Federation Horticulture Council Roundtable
Wednesday, 28 February 2024
I acknowledge the Ngunnawal people, on whose lands we meet today, and pay respects to all First Nations people present.
Australia’s agriculture sector has hung its hat on technology to deliver a strong productivity performance over the past 20 years (Treasury 2023 p84).
As Australia’s third largest agricultural industry, horticulture is a significant part of the innovation story (DAFF n.d).
We are now seeing overhead cameras and artificial intelligence speeding up processing times by detecting and accurately determining the size of up to 5,000 pieces of fruit in the back of an open-top truck (AUSVEG 2023).
Researchers are testing drones – and the turbulent downdraft they create – as a possible way to pollinate glasshouse-grown strawberries and tomatoes (Jadhav 2023).
Growers are maximising their output by taking tonnes of otherwise wasted vegetables and turning them into nutrient-dense powders for supplements and our morning smoothies (AUSVEG 2023).
Governments are joining forces with industry to revamp pest-management datasets to further strengthen our arm at the trade negotiating table (Watt 2023).Read more
Matter of Public Importance, House of Representatives
Wednesday, 28 February 2024
,It is a great thing in this House to be discussing the important issue of competition, and for that I thank the member for Kennedy for bringing forward this matter of public importance.
If you're a sports fan in Australia you have plenty of choices. If you're an AFL fan you've got 18 teams to choose from. If you're a fan of the Women's Big Bash League you've got eight teams to choose from. If you're a fan of the Australian Ice Hockey League you have 10 teams to choose from including the Canberra Brave, the Central Coast Rhinos, the Melbourne Mustangs and the Sydney Ice Dogs. If you're an A-League fan you have 12 teams to choose from. The fact is that many of these leagues are also growing new teams, so we've had the GWS Giants and the Tasmanian JackJumpers.Read more
Competition And Consumer Amendment (Fair Go For Consumers And Small Business) Bill 2024
Summing Up Speech
House of Representatives, Wednesday 28 February 2024
At the outset I would like to thank those members who have contributed to the debate on the Competition and Consumer Amendment (Fair Go for Consumers and Small Business) Bill 2024, including the members for Mayo, Moreton, Wentworth, Werriwa, Warringah, Lyons and Hume.
Competition policy has been front and centre in the public debate over recent months. The Albanese government has been concerned to ensure that our competition settings are fit for purpose. Competition reform is vital to boosting productivity. In the early 1990s, reforms kicked off by Prime Minister Paul Keating and competition expert Fred Hilmer led to cooperation with the states and territories which ultimately boosted living standards, producing a permanent 2½ per cent lift in GDP. That translates to something in the order of $5,000 for the typical Australian household in today's terms. So competition reform is a big deal. Getting competition right is good for consumers, it's good for employees and it's good for innovation.Read more
WEDNESDAY, 28 FEBRUARY 2024
SUBJECTS: Bigger, better, fairer tax cuts for more Australians; monthly inflation figures; Government’s cost-of-living relief; non-compete clauses hurting wages and innovation.
GREG JENNETT, HOST: Treasury Portfolio Minister Andrew Leigh is Assistant Minister for Competition and he joins us in the studio. Welcome back to the programme.
ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR COMPETITION, CHARITIES, TREASURY AND EMPLOYMENT ANDREW LEIGH: Thanks, Greg.
JENNETT: Andrew, tempted to ask if you've given any thought to what you'll do with your tax cuts, but I imagine it's something mundane like the rest of us. The Government, though tactically seems a bit disappointed it sailed through so quickly. The Prime Minister and others have been baying in the House of Reps, where you are for rapid passage all week. And then they got it last night. No delay, no examination. Is that a good thing or a bad thing from your point of view?
LEIGH: I’m delighted to see the strong support in the parliament for our bigger, better fairer tax cuts. Greg. We want Australians to earn more and keep more of what they earn. The Coalition, when we first announced our package, said that they'd roll it back, they said we should have an election and then eventually they voted for it. That's all to the good. That means every Australian will get a tax cut and it's particularly good for young Australians, 98% of whom will be better off under this package.
JENNETT: No voter gratitude to speak of as these things are tracked by at least two opinion polls, news poll and resolve this week, there's not much to measure. And surely that was a part of the original intention, particularly timed around the Dunkley by election.Read more
ABC SYDNEY DRIVE WITH RICHARD GLOVER
TUESDAY, 27 FEBRUARY 2024
SUBJECTS: Boosting competition in the supermarket sector.
RICHARD GLOVER: Well, there's been a lot of discussion, hasn't there, especially in the last couple of weeks since that Four Corners program about adequate market competition in Australia. Do we have a serious problem when you can refer to a majority of the supermarket industry with the portmanteau term, Colesworth?
Well, the Assistant Minister for Competition, Andrew Leigh, says we may be becoming the land of the duopoly, and the solution must be reached through the cooperation of federal, state and local governments. And Andrew Leigh joins us here on Drive.
ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR COMPETITION, CHARITIES, TREASURY AND EMPLOYMENT ANDREW LEIGH: Good afternoon, Richard. Great to be with you and your listeners.Read more
ROYAL AUSTRALIAN MINT’S NEW EXHIBITION CELEBRATES CHANGE IN ALL ITS FORMS
The Royal Australian Mint (the Mint) and the Cultural Facilities Corporation (CFC) are excited to announce that the Mint’s highly-popular coin shop and exclusive new off-site exhibition, Change in your Pocket, are now open at Canberra Museum and Gallery (CMAG) in Civic Square.
The Mint’s temporary new inner-city location and gift shop enables its many thousands of annual visitors to continue enjoying its exhibition and education programs and to buy coins and other souvenirs in a brand new setting while the Mint’s Deakin building undergoes extensive refurbishment.Read more
ABC RADIO NATIONAL WITH PATRICIA KARVELAS
THURSDAY, 22 FEBRUARY 2024
SUBJECTS: Government’s response to lack of competition in supermarket sector, CHOICE quarterly price monitoring of grocery prices, Review of Food and Grocery Code, Mergers policy consultations, ANZ/Suncorp decision, Impact of non-compete clauses on wages.
PATRICIA KARVELAS, HOST: Australia is in the middle of a big competition debate. Why is that important? Because a lack of competition in the economy is helping to drive up prices in all areas – from supermarkets to banking to energy to our domestic and overseas flights, according to many experts. The Government says it wants to overhaul competition laws, and the person tasked with doing that and devising a strategy is the Assistant Minister for Competition and Treasury, Andrew Leigh so we’ve invited him on the program.
Andrew Leigh, welcome.
ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR CHARITIES, COMPETITION, TREASURY, AND EMPLOYMENT ANDREW LEIGH: Thanks, Patricia. Great to be with you and your listeners.
KARVELAS: Let’s start with the supermarkets, where I think most people are very – very focused at the moment given they go to the supermarket and, you know, come back with very few items for a big price tag. There are several inquiries looking into them right now. What do you think has gone wrong?
LEIGH: Well, we’ve got a highly concentrated supermarket sector, much more concentrated than, say, Britain or the United States. One of the standard rules of economics is when you’ve got too few players you tend to have prices that are too high. One of the challenges in the past has been the heavy squeezing of suppliers, and most of the focus in supermarket policy has been on the prices that suppliers receive through the Food and Grocery Code of Conduct.
Increasingly now though we’re also looking at the impact on consumers. And that’s why the Treasurer has asked the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission for a report on supermarket pricing. We’ll have an interim report by the end of August.
And we’ve also asked CHOICE to engage in quarterly price monitoring so people can see where the best prices are being provided and save money on their weekly shop. Those CHOICE reports will be coming out in the coming months.
KARVELAS: Okay. You mentioned this big concentration. In the last hour we spoke with Graeme Samuel, former ACCC boss. He says we’ve got 27 million people spread out in this country and, in fact, you know, contested this idea that it’s an issue of concentration. Do you disagree with him?
LEIGH: Well, certainly the rule about concentration applies across a range of sectors and I worry, Patricia, that Australia’s market concentration has increased over recent decades. We’ve got evidence now from very good microdata – which wasn’t available a few years back – that market concentration has gone up, that markups have increased – that is the gap between costs and prices – and there’s less job switching than there was in the past, which is a problem because switching jobs is one of best ways people boost their wages. All of that points to a less dynamic economy and maybe one of the reasons why we’ve just had the lousiest decade of productivity growth in the post-war era.Read more
HOW TO GET MONEY'S WORTH OUT OF PROGRAMS
Each year thousands of patients miss their hospital appointments.
It costs money – contributes to backlogs and delays – and means that appointments cannot be allocated to others in need.
Some 15 per cent of outpatient appointments at Sydney’s St Vincent’s Hospital used to be missed each year, despite patients being sent reminders.Read more
NEW DATA SHOWS 1 IN 5 AUSTRALIAN EMPLOYERS USED NON-COMPETE CLAUSES
The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) has today released results from a survey of employers on the use of restraint clauses, revealing that 1 in 5 Australian businesses (21 per cent) used non-compete clauses for at least some of their employees in 2023.
Non-compete clauses are conditions of employment that restrict an employee’s future ability to work for a competitor or start their own business. There is growing concern internationally that these clauses are increasingly restricting workers from shifting to better paying jobs and may be hampering business innovation and productivity.
During the Coalition’s nine years in office, productivity growth stagnated and real wages flatlined. Employment terms that make it harder for workers to move to a better job may be acting as a drag on wages and economic dynamism.Read more