The powers of the yet-to-be appointed Grocery Commission will be quite extraordinary, the Deputy Secretary, Building, Resources and Markets at MBIE, Paul Stocks told the NZFGC ONE VOICE conference in Queenstown today.

He said the ability of the commissioner to review the workings of the market each year and to make public recommendations to the Government if changes in competition were not happening was a “really powerful tool”, and the Government being required to respond to any concerns was “quite extraordinary”.

He briefed delegates on the Grocery Market Study and the Government’s response to it, in the form of a bill, the Grocery Industry Competition Bill.

This is due to be introduced to Parliament before the end of the year and will address issues including wholesale access, the Code of Conduct, a disputes resolution process, and the establishment of the Grocery Commission. Consultation will be sought in the new year.

Of the work over the past months, he said in his 30+ years working in the public sector he had “not seen this kind of pace in an area this complex”.

“Actually, the only thing that comes close in terms of pace was the Covid response”. On the Code, he said “basically what it says is, and I’ll paraphrase here, is don’t be dicks … be fair and reasonable”.

He gave a shout-out to the work of Katherine Rich and NZFGC for work across the whole of the Grocery Market Study.