By James Glynn

SYDNEY--Australia's biggest food retailers are facing a parliamentary inquiry into alleged price gouging after the country's center-left Labor government agreed on Sunday to an investigation amid an ongoing steep jump in the cost of living.

Coles and Woolworths will face the inquiry after Greens senator Nick McKim called for an investigation that would see their chief executives questioned. McKim alleged the supermarket operators had raised prices unfairly.

"This inquiry is a critical step toward dismantling the market concentration that's led to unfair pricing and stifled competition," he said. "We'll find a way to dismantle their power and bring grocery prices down."

Inflation in Australia raced at an annual rate of more than 8% in 2022, but has since cooled sharply.

Still, Reserve Bank of Australia Gov. Michele Bullock recently identified "home grown" forces as the major drivers of consumer price inflation, not global factors like the war in Ukraine and supply chain blockages.

Assistant Competition Minister Andrew Leigh said Sunday that the government supported the inquiry because Australians need answers to why prices are rising.

Write to James Glynn at

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

12-03-23 1711ET