A toothless chihuahua? : the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, neoliberalism and supermarket power in Australia

Richards, Carol, Lawrence, Geoffrey, Loong, Mark, & Burch, David (2012) A toothless chihuahua? : the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, neoliberalism and supermarket power in Australia. Rural Society Journal, 21(3), pp. 250-263.

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Abstract

During the Senate Inquiry into 'milk price wars' in 2011, Senator Nick Xenophon accused the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) of being 'less effective than a toothless Chihuahua'. This follows the ACCC's lack of action regarding the reported abuse of market power of Australia's supermarket duopoly, where an extensive inquiry into the competitiveness of retail prices in 2008 found grocery retailing to be 'workably competitive' despite numerous claims to the contrary. How can farmers' submissions to the inquiry that cite market abuse be reconciled with the ACCC's finding that all is well in the food supply chain? Following an in-depth examination of 53 farmer submissions to the inquiry, we conclude that the findings of the ACCC are commensurate with the neoliberal economisation of the political sphere, where commercial entities 'legitimately' govern beyond their corporate boundaries, often using disciplinary measures that were once exclusive to governments. We argue that such clear structural inequalities between farmers and major corporations is reason to re-regulate markets and reinsert a stronger role for government to 'level the playing field'.

Impact and interest:

13 citations in Scopus
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ID Code: 68200
Item Type: Journal Article
Refereed: Yes
Keywords: Supermarkets, Farmers, ACCC, Neoliberalism, Economisation
DOI: 10.5172/rsj.2012.21.3.250
ISSN: 1037-1656
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > QUT Business School
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2012 eContent Management Pty. Ltd.
Deposited On: 13 Mar 2014 02:58
Last Modified: 22 Nov 2014 10:36

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