If brains were dynamite our Commerce Commission wouldn’t have enough to blow their nose

Our Commerce Commission recently received more than 90 complaints from suppliers being strong armed by Progressive/Countdown.

They had a cursory look and found…nothing.

Countdown, despite the more than 90 complaints claimed vindication.\Meanwhile in Australia, their ACCC has found a remarkably similar story…and slammed the supermarket chain they nailed with millions in fines.

Australian supermarket chain Coles will pay A$11.25 million in fines and costs and potentially far more refunding suppliers for illegally squeezing them for funds.

The food and liquor giant’s settlement with the Australian competition watchdog over charges of unconscionable conduct in its treatment of grocery suppliers was accepted by the Federal Court on Monday.

The nation’s second largest supermarket chain had deliberately and illegally misused its market power to squeeze small suppliers for money, judge Michelle Gordon told the court.

The verdict was welcomed by the Australian Food and Grocery Council, which also applauded Coles and Woolworths for working with it on a code of conduct.

However the industry body has warned members in writing about Woolworths also seeking to recoup money for “profit gaps”, although it has not facing any charges.

The payments to Coles filled what it called its “profit gaps” or targets, which in reality meant profit shifting and deducting money it was supposed to pay suppliers.

Because Coles represented a significant proportion of the small suppliers’ sales, it was able to successfully pressure them by threatening to stop buying their products, the court found.

Note Progressives owner Woolworths is also implicated for the same business practices.

Which is precisely the sorts of complaints that our Commerce Commission received here…and yet they found nothing, despite the fact it was the Aussies who came over here to stand over suppliers.

One industry insider who I spoke with on condition of anonymity had this to say:

I believe if we had better powers for the Commerce Commission in NZ, in line with the ACCC in Australia, the Progressive investigation outcome would have been different.

The current Commerce Commission is a toothless fairy which either needs to be strengthened in line with the ACCC, or disbanded and the savings can go toward reducing the deficit.

It is currently an absolute waste of time and money, which can be seen from their inability to do anything over the last number of years.

Government needs to wake up to this, as it is currently a total waste of time.

Strong words, uttered out of complete frustration.

I note that the Commerce Commission recently also found nothing to see with complaints about predatory and anti-competitive tactics from Fletchers and their wallboard subsidiary. Another travesty.

I find it strange that the Commerce Commission can not find any evidence yet the ACCC in Australia dealing with the same organisations can find plenty.


– NZ Herald

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As much at home writing editorials as being the subject of them, Cam has won awards, including the Canon Media Award for his work on the Len Brown/Bevan Chuang story. When he’s not creating the news, he tends to be in it, with protagonists using the courts, media and social media to deliver financial as well as death threats.

They say that news is something that someone, somewhere, wants kept quiet. Cam Slater doesn’t do quiet and, as a result, he is a polarising, controversial but highly effective journalist who takes no prisoners.

He is fearless in his pursuit of a story.

Love him or loathe him, you can’t ignore him.

To read Cam’s previous articles click on his name in blue.