Goldstein News – 1 September 2008
When Shane Warne retired Australians must have wondered whether they would see such a masterful spinner in action again. They didn’t have to wait long. Kevin Rudd is Australia’s new spin king.
The Rudd Opposition led Australians to believe that a Rudd Labor Government would bring grocery and petrol prices down.
Now the Rudd Opposition has become the Rudd Government and Australians are looking for action and results. Faced with the realisation that their price reduction promises were irresponsible claims on which they will be unable to deliver, the Rudd spin machine has swung into action.
A new website, GROCERYchoice, is the Rudd Government’s answer to higher grocery prices. Assistant Treasurer Chris Bowen announced it with the claim that it “will empower consumers to find the best deals at the supermarket.” Really?
You would expect that to achieve this lofty claim, the website would need to tell consumers where they could buy a specific product at a specific price. Yet GROCERYchoice falls well short of the mark.
The website does not track the prices of individual products but of broad generic baskets of goods. It doesn’t take account of specials. Nor does it tell consumers at which store the price survey was taken, only giving information on broad regions. And it is only updated monthly. So bad luck if you were hoping to find out at which supermarket a tin of SPC Ardmona tomatoes is cheapest today.
Of course, creating a website to provide quality information would involve tracking the prices of each of the roughly 30,000 items a typical supermarket stocks, doing this for every supermarket and updating it daily – an enormously complex and expensive exercise.
But even then, such a website would be impractical for shoppers. Can you imagine searching each of the items you purchase each week and working out where they are cheapest? And when, inevitably, different items were cheaper at different supermarkets, are you going to buy your milk from Coles, your bread from Safeway, your eggs from Aldi and your coffee from IGA?
The real objective of GROCERYchoice is the same as that of FuelWatch to give the impression of a government doing something about a problem when in fact it is doing nothing. In a rare moment of truth, and one that he will surely regret, Chris Bowen let slip that “we cannot guarantee that grocery prices will come down.”
Paul Keating was right when he said of Mr Rudd, “frenetic activity…suiting journos, running at the behest of little press secretaries does not pay off.” Kevin08 is playing a dangerous game. You can only get away with passing off frenetic activity as achievement for so long.
Meanwhile, can we bring Shane Warne back? He might not be Prime Ministerial material but at least his spin came with results.