Election 2023: Labour leader Chris Hipkins 'concerned' supermarkets not treating consumers well

Labour leader Chris Hipkins is standing by his party's fruit and vegetable GST policy, which he says he's "proud of" and is committed to making sure Kiwis see 100 percent of the savings.    

Hipkins announced in August Labour would run at the election with a tax policy that included removing the goods and services tax (GST) from fresh and frozen fruit and vegetables. The GST policy would save average households about $4.25 per week from April 1 next year, if Labour is re-elected.  

Appearing on AM ahead of the first leaders debate on Tuesday evening, Hipkins was asked about whether he stood by his fruit and vegetable GST policy - which he said he did.   

When asked how much of the savings supermarkets would pass on to consumers, Hipkins said he expects it to be 100 percent of the 15 percent coming off fruit and vegetables.  

This comes despite research from the Tax Working Group from 17 Eurozone countries from 1999 to 2013 showing the pass-through rate on average was 30 percent.   

Hipkins pointed to a Grocery Commissioner being appointed earlier this year to make sure these savings are passed on.   

"I am concerned generally about the supermarkets not treating the consumers well. It's one of the reasons why we need more competition in our supermarket sector," he said.   

AM co-host Ryan Bridge then brought out a cucumber and chopped it up to explain what Kiwis would get from Labour's policy if only 30 percent of the savings were passed through by supermarkets.  

Election 2023: Labour leader Chris Hipkins 'concerned' supermarkets not treating consumers well
Photo credit: AM

Bridge asked if Labour's policy is based on "Chippy trusting the supermarkets", which Hipkins denied.  

"No... We have a Grocery Commission there to make sure they do. So, a supermarket watchdog who will be able to make sure they do pass through the discounts," he said.  

Hipkins also noted the fruit and vegetable GST policy isn't the only way Labour is helping Kiwis. He pointed to increasing the amount paid out through Working for Families.  

Labour would increase the amount given to families with children by $25 per week to $97.50 per week. Overall, about 175,000 households would be about $47 per week better off under Labour's policy once abatement thresholds for Working for Families were lifted in 2026, he said.  

Bridge asked if Hipkins would resign if there wasn't a pass-through rate of 100 percent if Labour was elected back to Government.   

Hipkins told AM he would make sure the savings are passed through to consumers but he wouldn't commit to resigning if the pass-through rate isn't 100 percent.   

"I will make sure that it does. I will guarantee the public that we're going to continue our relentless focus on making sure that they're paying less at the checkout through having a Grocery Commissioner, through having better competition in the supermarkets and through taking GST off fruit vegetables," Hipkins said. 

Watch the full interview with Chris Hipkins in the video above.