Bob Katter, Andrew Wilkie dressed up in inflatable pig suits to protest against Coles, Woolworths market power in supermarkets

A bizarre protest against the supermarket giants involving a pair of inflatable pig suits has led to the crossbench warning Labor it will bleed voters if it doesn’t act now on grocery prices.

Bob Katter and Andrew Wilkie caused a stir as they trotted around Parliament House with their snouts in a “trough” of fake cash, drumming up interest in their renewed push to break up Coles and Woolworths market power.

The MPs said they planned to introduce legislation, which they first tried to pass a decade ago, to reduce the powers of the big two supermarkets and create a commissioner for food retailing that would have powers to stop price gouging and other anti-competitive behaviour.

It would also scrap the voluntary food and grocery code of conduct which they said was doing nothing and require the supermarkets to publish what they are paying farmers.

But not everyone was impressed by the stunt with some questioning why the handsomely paid pair were acting like a bunch of farm animals on a Wednesday morning.

“Every now and then there are moments where Australian politics makes Pakistani politics seem boring and I’m never mentally prepared,” comedian Sami Shah said on X.

“I am not awake enough to see this yet,” another wrote.

“Good to see the country is still bonkers,” a woman responded.

While the men were too busy eating fake cash, oinking and squealing in the morning, they later returned flanked by colleagues Monique Ryan, Rebekha Sharkie, Dai Le and Russell Broadbent, after a costume change.

But it doesn’t mean all the props were left at home.

A mock-up of a price tag from Coles and Woolworths showing the difference between what the farmers are paid and consumer shell out for potatoes was on show.

Mr Katter also turned up with a branch he’d acquired to mimic the metaphor that divestiture powers, if enacted, would be a “big stick” to the supermarket duopoly.

“Are we just going to continue with (the supermarket chains) screwing the farmers down through the floor and charging the consumers a squillion dollars,” he said as he waved the big stick around.

Coles and Woolworths have a combined nearly 80 per cent of the market share of supermarkets in Australia.

Mr Wilkie and Katter want supermarkets limited to a maximum 20 per cent market share within five years.

Politicians from all sides have been heaping the pressure on the supermarket duopoly in recent months, after Coles and Woolworths returned profits that exceeded $1bn last financial year.

Coles and Woolworths have repeatedly denied engaging in price gouging.

Four separate reviews, including a competition watchdog price inquiry, into the conduct of the supermarket chains are currently underway.

The federal government appointed former Labor minister Craig Emerson to lead a review of the food and grocery code last month.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has previously said he was prepared to act but would wait until the outcome of the reviews have been handed back.

On how the crossbench could force the government to act now given it did not need their votes in the lower house to pass legislation, the MPs had a stern warning for Labor.

“The big boys did not achieve 33 per cent (primary vote),” Mr Katter said.

“If they do not move on this, that 33 and a half per cent that we (independents) got at the last election will increase.

“If they want to see us accelerate, and get more votes, well just sit where you are and look after Woolworths and Coles.”

Ms Le, who toppled Labor’s fly-in candidate Kristina Keneally in Fowler in a shock win, said she’s not afraid to head out to Western Sydney and convert more people to independent voters.

Mr Wilkie noted it was the crossbench who successfully pushed for the banking royal commission.

“There are ways of moving,” he said.

“That’s even when the government’s got a majority. Just wait until they go into minority after the next election.”

Read related topics:Anthony Albanese

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