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Here at UQ St Lucia, the daily grind of student life intersects with the necessity of grocery shopping. The proximity of major supermarket competitors like Coles and Woolies should theoretically drive down grocery prices for city dwellers. However, this stark fantasy tale is as fictitious as the salaries the big bosses of these organisations received over the COVID-19 period. It’s been made public knowledge that the salary of the Coles’ boss increased from 6.69 million to 7.25 million, whilst the Woolies boss took a ‘hit’ for the everyday Aussie with a salary cut from 8.37 million to 7.56 million, as reported by News.com.au.

The situation has escalated with a Federal Senate Inquiry initiated in December 2023, revealing alleged price gouging by Coles and Woolies, particularly affecting vulnerable communities, including university students. Queensland Premier and former UQ Union member Steven Miles responded to this Federal Senate Inquiry by launching his state-wide inquiry into major supermarkets. However, criticism has emerged, questioning the effectiveness of Miles’ approach and labelling it as a mere publicity stunt. The Guardian suggests that Miles may be overstepping his jurisdiction, delving into a federal matter without significant impact.

Addressing the issue at hand requires a broader, federal-level strategy that begins with acknowledging the crucial role of farmers in the supply chain. Supermarkets, e.g., Coles and Woolies, are seen as middlemen, leaving farmers and consumers vulnerable and unwavering to the greediness of corporate middle managers. It’s time to shift the focus towards a comprehensive solution that leaves the hard-working farmers and out-of-pocket consumers better off.

In the meantime, what steps can UQ students take to mitigate the struggle? Well, I urge UQ students to explore practical alternatives, such as signing up for Mates Rates—a free program offering a 25% discount on products in the Food Co-op & Op-Shop and a 10% discount in all other UQU outlets. Additionally, students can enjoy complimentary fresh meat or vegan dishes at Kampus Kitchen (M-F, 5 pm-6 pm) and grab a quick morning feed at Morning Marmalade (M-F, 8:00 am-9:30 am). For further information, students can contact the Vice Presidents for Students’ Rights, Jeryn Chang and Jordy Duffy.

As we navigate the grocery dilemma, stay tuned to subsequent editions for updates on the latest and greatest deals available to UQ students in and around St Lucia, Toowong, and Indooroopilly.

Cheers,

Max Thompson 

Your Concerned UQU Student Rights Employee

For all concerns email: max.thompson@uqu.com.au

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