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Supermarket shake-up continues, Mallard off to Ireland

ANALYSIS: Government forces supermarkets to open wholesale, Trevor Mallard to Ireland, Gaurav Sharma expelled.

Beehive Banter: Brigitte Morten speaks with Grant Walker

The Government has wielded the stick at the supermarket duopoly this week – forcing them to open their wholesale arms to smaller competitors.

It marked the latest move to create a fairer playing field, following the Commerce Commission’s scathing assessment of the sector saying there was an overall lack of competition.

Supermarkets were also said to be making $1 million a day in excess profits.

Government puts spotlight on duopoly in 7.3% inflation environment.

 

But since the spotlight has gone on the duopoly, Foodstuffs (New World and Pak’nSave) and Woolworths NZ (Countdown) have been on a price-blitz frenzy, advertising hot specials and price rollbacks.

NBR columnist Brigitte Morten says the Government was looking to score points in a high inflationary environment.

“The biggest thing that's going to affect whether or not the prices look painful – politically – is inflation.

“The Government's trying to distract a little bit from that fight, I think, with some of these things around having much more regulation.”

Morten was sceptical as to whether the latest moves were going to result in cheaper prices at the checkout. She said the entry of retail giant Costco to Auckland should help with competition, as well as the removal of restrictive covenants.

Trevor Mallard.

 

Speaker jets off to Ireland

Trevor Mallard has signed off as Speaker of the House after a colourful career in Parliament. His legacy?

Well, he made Parliament more family and dog friendly, appointed a new commissioner to investigate bad behaviour by MPs, but then there was the blaring music and sprinklers turned on protesters at the occupation earlier this year.

Morten said he would be remembered as a “bruising speaker” who had a number of fails, including when he alleged there was a rapist on Parliament grounds and the taxpayer was forced to pay more than $300,000 in compensation.

Mallard now moves to Ireland as Ambassador. 

Expelled MP Gaurav Sharma.

No by-election

Hamilton West MP Gaurav Sharma was expelled from the Labour Party caucus this week for continued attacks on other MPs. He alleged widespread bullying, cover-ups, misspending, as well as his lack of trust with Parliamentary Services.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern refused to launch an investigation, claiming the root cause of the fallout was multiple members of Sharma’s staff raising issues with his management.

Morten said Labour had a clear majority and would not be worried about Sharma voting the wrong way. She added that the chance of a by-election was slim and would come at a huge cost, a year out from the next election.

“Those electorates in Hamilton, I wouldn't call them bellwether, but they do swing around quite a bit.

“For National to pick up [Hamilton West] would be a massive political loss to Labour.”

Morten said Sharma had had a solid couple of weeks in the media spotlight, including a lengthy interview on Newshub, which ultimately cost him his position within the Labour caucus.  

She was uncertain whether any further allegations he may wish to reveal would receive the same level of attention.

Contact the Writer: jmitchell@nbr.co.nz
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Supermarket shake-up continues, Mallard off to Ireland
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