Television Interview with Natalie Barr – Sunrise – Friday 8 March 2024

SUBJECTS: Supermarket competition; Nuclear power; Sam Kerr

NATALIE BARR: Supermarkets have been accused of pressuring fruit growers to slash their prices to fund an industry price war. The claims were aired at the Greens‑led Senate Inquiry. It was told that one of the big chains recently boasted to shoppers it was dropping the price of bags of fruit, only to then force its supplier to cut their own price to fund the promotion.

For more let’s bring in Education Minister Jason Clare and Deputy Opposition Leader Sussan Ley. Good morning to both of you.

JASON CLARE, MINISTER FOR EDUCATION: G’day, Nat.

BARR: Jason, are our farmers getting taken for a ride here?

 CLARE: This is what this inquiry is about. It’s also what the ACCC inquiry that we’ve kicked off is about. Making sure that shoppers get a fair deal but also making sure that farmers get a fair deal as well.

We’ve seen the prices go up at the supermarket but at the same time the profits that Woollies and Coles are making has gone up as well.

So an inquiry like this by the Senate, but also the inquiry that the ACCC is conducting now, is critical here to make sure that farmers get a fair go.

BARR: Yeah, Sussan, are you priced by these allegations? We’ve all heard them for years, haven’t we?

SUSSAN LEY: Well, we should never be a country, Nat, where Australians can’t afford to put food on the table. Unfortunately, it’s starting to look like that now.

Now I’m not here to defend unfair profits but remember if power prices go up everything you put on the shelves, everything you store in the freezer, that’s going to go up in price too and meanwhile with the unions at the ports we’re seeing increases in the cost of bringing things into this country.

So, we do need that plan that we were promised to bring down power prices and look after Australians when it comes to the cost‑of‑living in the supermarket, because yes, they are struggling.

BARR: Sussan, are you saying that the problem with farmers being gouged has only just happened since the power issue?

 LEY: I’m saying it’s worse now because the cost of running the supermarket and the cost of deliveries are going up, Nat, and power is an important part of that. But as someone who passionately defends my farmers out in the Murray‑Darling Basin, who by the way have had their water removed by this Government that doesn’t seem to understand the link between our farmers growing food and the cost‑of‑living, yeah, I’m always absolutely there at the barricades for my farmers.

But where is the plan to bring down our power prices? Because look at the supermarkets, look at the storage chain, look at the supply chain. It all relies on power and there’s no plan for that, and power prices are jumping now by double figures and meanwhile the cost‑of‑living more broadly is going up. So of course Australians are struggling right across the board.

BARR: Okay. Jason, we’ll let you respond to that and then we’ll move on.

CLARE: Well the Liberal Party’s plan for power is to build nuclear power stations right across the country. I think they’ve lost their mind if they think this is the solution. That would just increase, the cost of nuclear energy is triple the cost of solar.

So if the Liberal Party think that building nuclear power stations is the way to cut the cost at the supermarket they really have lost their mind. I think Peter Dutton’s spent too much time staring at the microwave.

BARR: Okay. Let’s move on because, you know, that could go on for a while, that discussion. This is something that everyone has a view on, Australia’s leaders have weighed in on the comments Sam Kerr allegedly made towards this British policeman. New South Wales premier Chris Minns was quick to answer when asked if Kerr’s comments were racist, while WA leader Roger Cook threw his support behind the Matilda’s captain. Take a listen.

 [Excerpt]

JOURNALIST: If someone called you a “stupid white bastard” would you think that was racist?

CHRIS MINNS: No.

ROGER COOK: I don’t think it is racist. Sam is a great Western Australian. She’s done so much for Western Australian sport. She’s done so much for women and girl’s sport in Western Australia, and we stand by and support Sam.

[End of excerpt]

BARR: Jason, do you want to weigh in?

CLARE: I think I’m uniquely qualified to answer this question, Nat, as someone who is often called a stupid white bastard. No. I’m not offended by it. I think the whole country has got too wrapped around the axle with this one.

Obviously, what’s happened here is she’s had a chunder in a cab, she’s got into an argument with a cop. I’m surprised that this has even got to the point where it’s going to court. I suspect this will all get sorted out long before it ends up in court.

BARR: That’s what her lawyers are trying to do, get it thrown out. And the fact that it’s taken a year. Sussan, where do you stand on it?

LEY: Nat, this is moving around all over the place with her team saying that she’s been reported inaccurately and so on. So what I want to say is Sam Kerr is a great footballer internationally, she has inspired women, she has changed the face of female sport and she’s made a difference in the lives of so many girls who want to either play football or get more active in a competitive sport. So, I think we need to remember that while all of this plays out in the legal circles that it clearly will.

CLARE: 100 per cent.

BARR: Exactly, especially on International Women’s Day. She’s an icon for all women and men in this country, isn’t she? Thank you both today, we’ll see you next week.

ENDS