ACOSS backs ACTU price gouging inquiry

ACOSS is backing an ACTU inquiry into price gouging, to be led by former ACCC Chair Allan Fels.

The peak body says Professor Fels is well qualified to conduct the inquiry through public hearings to produce practical and effective measures to curb price gouging.

“Inflation has eaten into household budgets over the past year and has been used to justify aggressive interest rate hikes by the Reserve Bank, putting people’s jobs and living standards in jeopardy,” ACOSS CEO Cassandra Goldie says.

“Experts agree one of the causes of excessive inflation is businesses with market power being unwilling to reduce profit margins as inflation took hold and business costs rose.

“People on low incomes, though, have had to bear cuts in real wages and grossly inadequate income supports failing to cover the costs of essentials. We face the real possibility of an economic downturn over the next 12 months.

“We accept that inflation has put many businesses under pressure, but the burden of high inflation should be fairly shared – not shifted to lower paid workers and people on low fixed incomes relying on income support.

“If we can tackle inflation at its roots, then we don’t have to rely so much on interest rate hikes and higher unemployment to curb it. People should not be sacrificed to unemployment and poverty to control inflation.”