The Council of Small Business Australia (COSBOA) and Independent Senator for South Australia, pills Nick Xenophon, will hold a summit this week on the impact of competition policy on productivity and Australians’ standard of living.
The event—The Duopoly, the Economy and the Future: Is the duopoly good for the economy?—will be held in Parliament House, Canberra on Thursday, 31 October at Committee Room 2S1 from 9.30am to 1pm.
Speakers include marketing and public policy expert Dr Mark Sargent from Newcastle University, Jos De Bruin from Master Grocers Australia and retail tenancy and business consultant Don E Gilbert.
“There’s been so much speculation about the pressure that the supermarket giants Coles and Woolworths place on small business people as well as other large businesses,” says Peter Strong, Executive Director of COSBOA.
“COSBOA knows that the duopoly has control over other business’ financial plans, long-term business plans, profits and their ability to innovate. These issues affect productivity, and if we can’t increase productivity we face a decrease in our standard of living for the first time in generations,” Peter said.
“This isn’t just about the grocery sector—this is about the farm sector, manufacturing and the transport industries too,” Nick said. “The same pressures apply to all sectors—if independents get squeezed out of the market, there’ll be less competition and we’ll all end up paying more in the long run.”
Last week Senator Xenophon launched a discussion paper which includes creating a new offence of “predatory discounting” under Part IV of the Competition and Consumer Act 2010, after complaints the current system of supermarket shopper docket discounts is unsustainable and unfair, particularly on small businesses.
COSBOA has called for independent research to measure the economy-wide impact of the duopoly across the country.
“We expect the research results will provide a clearer picture and help identify potential solutions,” Peter said. “We want to make sure all of those attending have the freedom and the confidence to speak openly and freely about the pressures and for that reason, we’re saying that no issues will be off the table.”
See below for Summit Agenda:
The Duopoly, the Economy and the Future
Committee Room 2S1, Parliament House Canberra
10.00am Welcome – Senator Nick Xenophon
Rationale for the Summit Peter Strong Executive Director COSBOA
History of concern from communities, industry groups, individuals and businesses. The impact on our economy’s ability to innovate and increase productivity.
“Of Rocks and Hard Places: SMEs, Supply Chains and Retail Giants”
Presentation: Dr Mark Sargent Newcastle University
The retail sectors in which the retail oligopoly is impacting: Supermarkets, liquor, fuels, hardware. The reach of the duopoly into sectors that are historically dominated by ‘bigger’ firms e.g. insurance What are the impacts on supply/value chain members? What methods do the duopolists use to extract maximum returns from supply chain SMEs? Economic justification for these behaviours. Barriers between producers/suppliers and end-consumers and the implications of these for the supply chain? The competing interests of supply chain SMEs and consumers – who wins, who loses? Short and long term consequences of the ‘who wins/ who loses’ outcome.
Master Grocers Australia presentation – “Let’s Have fairer Competition”
Jos De Bruin CEO MGA
A comprehensive report developed in response to what is seen as unfair practices that inhibit true competition in the grocery sector.
The landlords and the Duopoly – Don E Gilbert – Retail Tenancy & Business Consultant
Is it good for competition to have such dominant businesses interacting together?
11.15 to 11.30 Morning tea
The Duopoly, the Economy and the Future – continued
Anti competitive price discrimination and what it means
John Cummings – Western Australian Independent Grocers Association (Inc)
Outline of a proposed research project that aims to:
Determine the facts
Do we have a problem with productivity and our future standard of living that is impacted by the dominance of the duopoly?
Do the duopoly use market power, dominance and fear for business purposes and if so is this at the expense of the economy?
Explore options that may promote better outcomes for SME participants in supply chains.
Panel Discussion and Q&A
A panel of industry representatives discuss the issues and answer questions or respond to comment from summit participants
Where to from here?
Go away and continue as is?
Contract the independent researcher to provide answers to the hard questions?
If there is a problem develop solutions
Agree on funding arrangements if independent research is to happen
1.00 pm Summary and finish
Senator Nick Xenophon
Contact: peter strong email@example.com 0433 644 097