By Aimee Chanthadavong

Supermarket bosses Ian McLeod of Coles and Tjeerd Jegen of Woolworths Supermarkets and Petrol have both dismissed independent MP Bob Katter’s Bill to reduce their market share to 20 per cent each.

The Reducing Supermarket Dominance Bill 2013, which is being supported by other independent MPs Nick Xeneophon and Andrew Wilkie, proposes for the two supermarkets to “reduce their colossal market” by selling off half of their store assets over six years. Woolworths and Coles hold a combined market share of approximately 80 per cent.

“The Americans are screaming blue murder because WalMart and their competitor have now reached about 23 per cent market share. Here we have two supermarkets with a market share of over 80 per cent, so if they decide to cut down the amount of money they are going to pay farmers and jack up the price to the consumers, they can, because there is no competition,” Katter said in a statement.

“We have to preserve what little competition we’ve got left so that we can get a fair go. It is vitally important to head off the untrammelled greed of the supermarket giants.”

However at the Australian National Retailers' Association (ANRA) lunch in Sydney on Tuesday, Coles managing director Ian McLeod described Katter’s Bill as “protectionist politics” and is “extremist”.

“When I came to Australia five years ago we were in the doghouse for having prices too high and now we’re being condemned and criticised for having prices too low. What do the politicians want? What they should want is what is right for the consumers,” he said.

“Allow the competitors to compete, allow us to thrive, allow us to be efficient, allow us to be productive in terms of what we do, allow us to lower prices for consumers and that’s far better for the country.”

McLeod also noted the company have a well-established relationship with their suppliers.

“We get criticised for importing products but the reality is 97 per cent of those in our stores are Australian,” he said.

“There are a number of suppliers growing very well on the back of their relationship with Coles. It’s because we’re doing a bloody good job and we continue to do a good job and work with them by working with them for our customers then we’re going to be successful.”

Similarly, Woolworths supermarkets and petrol managing director Tjeerd Jegen said it’s an “ill-conceived idea” providing the example that Woolworths’ Macro brand is 96 per cent Australian supplied to demonstrate the company’s support for local suppliers.

“If you ask our customers their main focus is job security, helping them with their budget and children of the future, strong national retail industry in Australia can provide jobs, help customers save money and lead for a better future. So I think that’s what governments and businesses should be focused on,” he said

“We’ve got a great relationship with many farmers and international and domestic suppliers and we’ve got a strong focus on making sure we’ve got Australian products first and many companies thrive with us.”