Senate Inquiry: Cost-of-Living crisis highlights the need for supermarket prices to be fair and transparent say consumer advocates

Consumer Action Law Centre CEO Stephanie Tonkin and Acting Director of Financial Counselling Practice Claire Tacon will be giving evidence today at the Senate Select Committee hearing into supermarket prices.

Consumer Action is also launching a new report At the front line of the cost-of-living crisis; Insights from a telephone financial counselling helpline.  The report reveals changes in the type of issues people called us about between 2022 to 2023, with more people wanting help with mortgage stress, rent arrears and household debt.

“Last year, we saw a 25% increase in the number of people calling our front lines compared to 2022, all of whom are doing it tough, and struggling to afford the rising costs of essentials like food, energy, and medicine,” Ms Tonkin said.

Ms Tonkin will tell the Inquiry that paying for food is a growing problem that our financial counsellors are hearing on the National Debt Helpline.

“Many people just can’t afford essentials anymore and, as supermarkets are where almost everyone buys their food, it stands to reason that supermarket prices must be fair and transparent.

“This is a problem because people in financial difficulty have no real alternatives to shopping at the major supermarkets or know recognised channels to complain about pricing problems How can any individual challenge these prices or practices?’ she said.

“I think there should be greater transparency of pricing and greater oversight to ensure supermarkets aren’t using their power and size to manipulate prices for customers,” Ms Tonkin said citing recent media reports.

Claire Tacon, Acting Director of Consumer Action’s Financial Counselling Practice said that not having enough money compounds disadvantage and magnifies its negative impact.

“The less you have, the more things cost as a portion of what you have,” she said.

“Last week we spoke to a person who had arranged for rent and bills to come out of Centrepay, leaving only $50 a fortnight for everything else, including food. Missing meals every day, the person mentioned supermarket prices as directly related to the family’s hardship. Food parcels are of some help, and the family is managing as best as it can,” Ms Tacon said.

At the front line of the cost-of-living crisis; Insights from a telephone financial counselling helpline 


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