Retirement Income

Mon, 13 Aug, 2018Basmah Qazi

$28 for instant coffee: The supermarkets ripping off Aussies

$28 for instant coffee: The supermarkets ripping off Aussies

The thought of paying $28 for a jar of coffee can be hard to imagine for many, but for those consumers living in remote areas of Australia, this inflated cost is a reality.

ABC News launched an investigation on government-controlled supermarkets after it was said that people were paying up to $18 more for household items than those living in metro areas. The investigation compares the prices of products in Lockhart River in comparison to the same products in Brisbane.

Products such as washing liquid had a difference of $10.80 compared to the price in Brisbane, and baby formula cost $9 more than the standard price.

And it’s not just grocery prices that are inflated. Unleaded petrol in the region was priced at $1.93 per litre and $1.89 for diesel – also at a store run by the government.

Lockhart River Mayor Wayne Butcher believes shoppers in remote indigenous regions are being ripped off.

“I’m angry because it’s very expensive and it just makes life so much harder,” he said.

“It’s not like you have choices either; you can’t just go to Coles or Woolworths. It’s an extra burden on each household and it’s not something we need.”

Community Enterprise Queensland (CEQ) is in charge of more than 20 of the remote stores across the state and is a statutory body of the Queensland Government.

A spokesperson from the government said they subsidise “fresh fruit, milk, eggs, some baby products and core basket essentials to ensure prices are kept low".

“It also assists communities to have access to ‘best buys’ and ‘specials’ and price matches with Coles, Cairns, on online products,” the spokesperson said.

“However, it must also be noted that there are still significant freight costs that have to be borne due to CEQ operating in very remote areas of the state.”

A recent productivity commission review recommended the government to step away from assets such as retail stores, as they can ‘crowd out’ locals from business opportunities.

In 2016, the government took over most of the remote supermarkets in Queensland.

Mr Butcher has said they were promised a decrease in prices but instead, had to deal with prices increasing even further.

“They said things would get better, but that’s a broken promise,” he said.

“Because of the remoteness and lack of employment opportunities, they should consider more subsidies to make things affordable.”