Populism? Yes, probably, but consider this. Wages demands are just around the corner especially with cost of living increases escalating as they are currently doing.
There is no obvious attention being paid to this escalation by the government, indeed, this government would prefer to see real wages growth go negative if the real import of the legislation formerly known as ’Workchoices’ is to be taken into account.
So ’Dolly’ Downer ridicules the Labor stance with his carrot-cops ploy; Costello tries to drag out some long forgotten statistic from 12 odd years ago which says prices were higher under Labor; and Howard makes the bland statement which clearly assumes that the general voting public are absolute morons with "The ABS watch prices all the time". So they might, Mr Howard, but does the ABS have the power to do anything about rising prices, or worse, gouging? No, it doesn’t. Indeed, the one agency which does have the power to investigate collusion, price gouging and uncompetitive commercial behaviour is the ACCC, yet when was the last time the ACCC ran an investigation into competition between the two grocery majors, Woolworths and Coles? Judging from the list of responsibilities noted on this portion of the ACCC site, I’d suggest never. IN fact, if you dig deeper through the same site, you’ll come across this Senate submission from 2002. Not a compulsory response audit, not concerned with retail prices and judging by the response levels, not taken at all seriously by those polled and hardly worth the end data. Quite frankly, the ACCC under Graeme Samuel has become even more of a tax-payer funded toothless pussy-cat than it ever was under Allan Fells.
Interestingly it’s not the general public which has come out in support of this latest announcement of Labor’s election strategy. Primary producers and produce wholesalers have immediately come out in support of this move to more closely monitor the price differentials between farm gate and supermarket shelf. The statistics tend to speak for themselves.
As long ago as 2003, Choice were saying that competition between the Big Two grocers was all but non-existent. The latest survey conducted in March this year reveals a situation virtually unchanged in competition terms. The cost of the Choice basket of groceries, however, has risen 13%. I wonder how many work-a-day families can claim to have benefited from a 13% increase in disposable income over the same period?
What appears crystal clear in this latest of Labor’s election strategies, is the march Labor clearly has over the government when it comes to getting down to the nitty-gritty of what the voters want. The government’s previous silence of these and other like issues, and it’s denigrating response in today’s media tend to make me think that;
- they’ve been caught out, yet again; and
- previous silence indicates a complete lack of understanding of the electorate and it’s drives.
This is the edge that Labor has over the Howard government. Labor understands, or at the very least, gives a damn good impression of understanding, while the government are being continually found wanting. This is where Labor will win it’s election. In the homes of voters, or more pointedly, in their hip pockets and purses.