In this era of the death of neoliberalism, when the party of the right vies with progressives to be the greatest interventionist, the most aggressive trust-buster and the toughest regulator in politics, there's one industry where it's still political fashion to pander to business at the expense of consumers: agriculture.
Yesterday, the ALP tried to introduce a bill into the House of Representatives establishing a process for the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) to set a floor price for milk. That comes after a kerfuffle over the Woolworths shareholder and Agriculture Minister David Littleproud calling for a boycott of Woolworths rivals Coles and Aldi on the basis that they wouldn't follow Woolies in increasing milk prices by 10%. Ten per cent is more than five times the current rate of inflation, at a time when wages are growing at around 2% (Littleproud has since dumped his shares).
The ag minister, however, was on more solid footing when he described Labor's floor price proposal as "harebrained". Indeed, one might credit him on being polite about it. Imagine Labor proposing a "floor price" for bank fees. Or for petrol. Or for iPods and phones.