The Australian Government has made food security, including ensuring supply to regional and remote communities, a high priority throughout the response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Under the National Coordination mechanism, a Supermarkets Taskforce was established to work with all levels of government, industry and the community to ensure that stores can continue providing essential supplies and rapidly resolve issues that may prevent this.
Additionally, the National Indigenous Australians Agency (NIAA) has been actively working across Government and with industry stakeholders to make sure remote community stores and food security are part of the Whole of Government response.
The NIAA has contacted managers of more than 200 stores servicing Aboriginal communities across Australia to ensure the Government has an understanding of the supply status and where support needs to be directed.
The Minister for Home Affairs and I wrote to Australia’s largest manufacturers and distributers of key grocery products seeking their support to maintain supplies in light of the travel restrictions and additional payments.
Through its Food Security Working Group, the NIAA continues to bring the collective influence of store managers, suppliers, freight companies, representatives of large private sector companies, and state and territory governments to address current issues facing remote Australia.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission is also prioritising its activities in relation to monitoring for price gouging on essential products.
The NIAA has been, and will continue to be, in regular contact with stores and suppliers to identify issues impacting Indigenous Australians and escalate them to the appropriate State, Territory or National forums as required to limit the impacts of COVID-19.
We have been working closely with state and territory jurisdictions and today I will host the second of our Food Security Round Tables with suppliers, retailers and representatives from the Northern Territory and Queensland governments.
I am disappointed that the Opposition is talking down our collective efforts. It is important that we respond to factual information and I urge everyone to work together, in the best interests of all Australians who live in remote communities to ensure the ongoing security of food and basic supplies.