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Independent grocers feel short-changed

WA’S independent grocers are disappointed with the long-awaited Retail Grocery Industry Code of Conduct.

The voluntary code is part of the Federal Government’s response to last year’s Fair Market or Market Failure report.

In a recent speech Federal Small Business Minister Peter Reith said the Government had:

l Supported the report’s recommendations to develop an industry code of conduct;

l Established and fully funded an independent retail grocery industry ombudsman to help resolve industry disputes; and

l Amended the Trade Practices Act to improve access by small businesses to remedies and damages.

Commercial mediator David Newton has been appointed Retail Grocery Industry Ombudsman for a trial period of six months.

Parliamentary Secretary for Small Business Mal Brough said the code would benefit the industry.

“Mediating disputes, rather than litigating them in court delivers faster results for farmers and small businesses,” he said.

However, WA Independent Grocers’ Association president John Cummings said the Fair Market or Market Failure report had called for a mandatory code and inclusion of the “like terms for like customers” principle.

Mr Cummings said this would have promoted fairer competition between large and small grocery retailers.

“The Government’s rejection of these recommendations, opting instead for a weak voluntary code, is extremely disappointing for small retailers,” he said.

“The code will do little to help small retailers compete more fairly against the big supermarket chains and will do nothing to stem the chains’ increasing domination of grocery retailing.”

The WA Government is undecided about the issue of deregulated shopping hours.

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