Not much Christmas cheer as Aussies get ripped off and overcharged
As consumers rush out to fill their Santa stockings, a new report from The Centre for Independent Studies says government has made Australia one of the most expensive places to live and shop.
Australians are being ripped off according to the report Price Drivers - Five Case Studies in How Government is Making Australia Unaffordable.
Research fellow Dr Hartwich and research assistant Rebecca Gill argue staple groceries such as bananas are several times more expensive than in Europe; DVDs and books can be bought more cheaply in the US; and cars are sometimes less than half the price charged in Australia.
Dr Oliver Marc Hartwich said renting a shop in Pitt Street Mall is more expensive than on Paris’ glamorous Champs-Élysées boulevard.
“Shopping space in Australia is ludicrously expensive because entry into the retail sector is made difficult by arcane zoning laws that benefit incumbent retail giants,” he said.
Increasing costs have led to many shoppers to buying from international online shops, with e-commerce trading tripling from $40 billion in 2004-05 to $123 billion in 2008-09.
“In all these cases, government regulation has to cop the blame for the price differences – it is the major culprit for rip-off Australia’, says Dr Hartwich
“We are always told that Australia’s economy is the envy of the world but it doesn’t feel this way for Australian consumers.”
“Ordinary Australians should be outraged by the sky-high prices they have to pay for their Christmas shopping. What they are really paying for is the policies, regulations and import restrictions designed by their politicians.”
Dr Harwich said simple policy changes could already make a big difference, including the opening up of grocery market to cheaper imports.
“Isn’t it absurd that exotic and tropical fruits are often cheaper in Northern Europe than in Australia?”
“New Zealand allows for the private importation of cars from Japan so Kiwis are getting fantastic deals on used cars. We should open our borders to such private car imports too.”
“It is clear that something is very wrong with Australia’s cost of living.”
- Banana imports are virtually impossible thanks to protectionist quarantine laws.
- Privately importing cheaper cars from abroad is prohibited and the Luxury Car Tax is even affecting upper-middle class cars imported from abroad.
- And houses remain unaffordable due to a planning system that does not release enough land for development.
Dr Oliver Marc Hartwich and Rebecca Gill are researchers at The Centre for Independent Studies. Their report Price Drivers - Five Case Studies in How Government is Making Australia Unaffordable can be found here. Dr Hartwich is available for interview.