Chocolate, Cartels & Competition - Opinion Piece


One of the summer’s box office hits is Wonka – the prequel to Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. Without giving too much away, it’s the tale of how Willy Wonka takes on the chocolate cartel of Slugworth, Fickelgruber and Prodnose.

Between them, the cartel controls the chocolate market. Prices are kept high. Innovators are kept out. Big chocolate has the police in its pocket, and is willing to use every bitter trick to preserve its sweet control over the market.

For many Australian consumers, Wonka will resonate. Over recent years, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has taken action against anti-competitive behaviour in pharmaceuticals, finance, waste disposal and building construction. When so-called competitors collude, the public pays the price.

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Game Changer Harnessing Microdata for a Fairer Competition Landscape - Speech

Chifley Research Centre, Melbourne
Tuesday, 30 January 2024

I acknowledge the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin Nation, traditional custodians of the land on which we meet and pay my respects to all First Nations people here today.

In the minds of many, Ben Chifley is remembered for leading the nation through the end of the Second World War and its aftermath. But he was also the last person to combine the jobs of Prime Minister and Treasurer. Having served as John Curtin’s Treasurer from 1941 to 1945, Chifley kept the Treasury portfolio when he became Prime Minister, serving in both roles from 1945 to 1949. Indeed, Chifley said that he thought he would be remembered as Treasurer and not as Prime Minister (Beazley 2000).  According to a journalist of the era, Chifley’s interests ‘were almost exclusively economic and financial’ (Holt 1969).

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ABC Canberra Mornings with Adam Shirley Tuesday 30 January 2024 - Transcript


SUBJECTS: New Treasury research on value of competition in the airline industry.

: The skies well, clear as a bell. A good day for take-off and landing, but you'll pay the price. As we know, flying in and out of Canberra costs a fair bit more than any other city in Australia. For a long time it's been a bugbear. But will anything fundamentally change it and stop the gouging that you might feel?

Dr. Andrew Leigh is Federal Member for Fenner and Assistant Minister for Competition and Charities. Dr. Leigh, is it too much money to fly in and out of Canberra?

ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR CHARITIES, COMPETITION, AND TREASURY ANDREW LEIGH: Certainly an expensive route, isn't it, Adam? The cancellation rate is among the highest in Australia and this analysis that we've gotten out of Treasury suggests that there's a direct relationship between airline competition and how much you pay. When one airline services a route, then you pay on average about forty cents per kilometre. With two, you go down to go down to twenty-eight cents, with three you go down to nineteen cents. In other words, when you got three competitors on a route, then you're paying half as much per kilometre as when you've just got a single monopoly carrier.

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Government to launch ACCC inquiry into supermarket prices

The Albanese Government will direct the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) to investigate pricing and competition in the supermarket sector to ensure Australians are paying a fair price for their groceries.

We understand that Australians are under the pump and the cost of groceries is among the biggest concern for many.

This 12-month ACCC inquiry – the first of its kind since 2008 – will investigate the competitiveness of retail prices and allegations of price gouging in the supermarket sector.

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Sky News Afternoon Agenda with Tom Connell Thursday 18 January 2024 - Transcript


SUBJECTS: Labour force figures; Competition in the supermarket sector

TOM CONNELL (HOST): We’re joined by the Assistant Treasury and Assistant Employment Minister, Andrew Leigh. Thank you for your time. I think you're the Assistant Minister to the Treasury?


CONNELL: There you go. So, unemployment still with a three in front of it, it feels like a four is pretty inevitable. More than 100,000 full time jobs going. Is that going to be the well, not the new normal, the old normal is a three in front of it, unrealistic, do you think, as a permanent sort of facet of the economy?

LEIGH: Well, Tom, it is worth recognising how strong the labour market has been under the Albanese government. Under the former government, unemployment was around 5-6% for most of their nine years in office. Under us, it's consistently been below 4%. That translates into about 300,000 more jobs than if unemployment had been where it was under the Coalition.

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Sky News AM Agenda with Cheng Lei - Wednesday 17 January 2024


SUBJECTS: Appointment of Craig Emerson to Review Food and Grocery Code of Conduct; Measures to assist with rising cost of living; Rate of unemployment; Cost of school supplies; Support for charity sector.

CHENG LEI (HOST): Joining me now is the Assistant Minister for Competition Charities and Treasury Andrew Leigh. Hey there, Andrew. Thanks for coming on the show. So, let's talk about this review. Why was that rejected?

ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR CHARITIES, COMPETITION, TREASURY AND EMPLOYMENT: Cheng, David Littleproud was part of a government that did nothing on competition for a decade. So, it's pretty rich for him to be talking about it now. The fact is, since we came to office, we've increased the penalties for anti-competitive conduct. We've banned unfair contract terms. We carried out a review last year into the dispute resolution processes of the Food and Grocery Code of Conduct. And as scheduled this year we're conducting a review into the Food and Grocery Code of Conduct itself. Unlike previous reviews of the Code, this is being conducted by one of our top policy economists, Craig Emerson, a man with a big heart and a big brain who'll bring his intellect to bear on looking at how Australian suppliers and consumers can get a better deal in the grocery sector.

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Appointment of Dr Craig Emerson as Independent Reviewer of the Food and Grocery Code of Conduct - Joint Media Release

Joint media release with
The Hon Anthony Albanese MP
Prime Minister of Australia

The Hon Jim Chalmers MP

The Hon Murray Watt MP
Minister for Emergency Management
Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry

Appointment of Dr Craig Emerson as Independent Reviewer of the Food and Grocery Code of Conduct

The Albanese Government has appointed Dr Craig Emerson to lead the 2023-24 review of the Food and Grocery Code of Conduct (the Code) to ensure that the supermarket sector is working as it should.

The Food and Grocery code is prescribed under the Competition and Consumer Act 2010. Aldi, Coles, Woolworths and Metcash are signatories to the Code and are bound by it.

The Code was introduced to improve standards of business behaviour in the food and grocery sector.

The Code regulates the conduct of these retailers and wholesalers towards suppliers.

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Tis the season to give generously - Opinion Piece

Tis the season to give generously

The Daily Telegraph, Wednesday 20 December 2023

They called Chuck Feeney the “James Bond of philanthropy”. During his life, he gave away his entire $US8bn fortune. And he did it anonymously.

But Feeney wasn’t always focused on giving. At age 50, he owned homes in London, New York, Paris, San Francisco, Aspen and the French Riviera, partied on yachts, and attended black-tie soirees. Having started off selling duty free cigarettes, he had built a duty free empire that operated like a money machine.

That was when he had an epiphany and decided to give it all away. Having grown up in a working class New Jersey family, Feeney decided that he would return to a simple life.

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Cracking down on unfair NDIS participant pricing - Joint Media Release

Joint media release with 
The Hon Bill Shorten
Minister for the National Services


The Australian Government is putting an end to the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) “wedding tax” that has seen people with disability being forced to pay exorbitantly jacked up prices for essential services, supports and equipment.

Labor will double down on dodgy NDIS providers with the establishment of a multi-agency Taskforce comprising of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), the NDIS Quality and Safeguards  Commission and the National Disability Insurance Agency.

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Service Improvement Trials for Workforce Australia Online - Joint Media Release

Joint media release with
The Hon Tony Burke MP
Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations
Minister for the Arts
Leader of the House


The Australian Government is undertaking service improvement trials for Workforce Australia Online, to ensure employment services better meet the needs of the people who use them.

These trials will help build public sector stewardship in the employment services system, a key reform principle outlined in the Employment White Paper.

The trials will test whether people using online services get better employment outcomes, such as through more intensive job-finding support delivered by government and reduced length of time in online services. 

The service improvement trials are designed in partnership with the Australian Centre for Evaluation at Treasury, and subject to a robust ethical framework.

Participation will be voluntary, with opt-out provisions available to all clients.

The online service improvement trials will inform the government’s response to the House Select Committee into Workforce Australia Employment Services.

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Cnr Gungahlin Pl and Efkarpidis Street, Gungahlin ACT 2912 | 02 6247 4396 | [email protected] | Authorised by A. Leigh MP, Australian Labor Party (ACT Branch), Canberra.