January 26th

Peter Dutton's Suggested Woolworths Boycott

So, What's All This Fuss About Dutton and Woolworths?

Here's a bit of a yarn about the recent stoush between Peter Dutton and Woolworths over the supermarket's decision to give the flick to a wide range of Australia Day merchandise this year. Yes, this was really a thing and, bizarrely, it become a major talking point around the country for a few weeks.

Peter Dutton, the Opposition Leader, has stirred up a bit of a hornet's nest by calling for a boycott of Woolworths. Why? Because the supermarket giant decided to not stock special Australia Day-themed gear like thongs with the Aussie flag on 'em. Dutton reckons this is a case of the company wading into social issues, much like former Qantas CEO Alan Joyce did with his support for same-sex marriage. Dutton's beef with Woolies is that it shouldn't be dictating how Aussies celebrate their national day, and he's urged shoppers to give their business to other supermarkets like IGA, Coles, or Aldi instead.

Woolworths, on their part, said that they've seen a drop in the demand for Australia Day merch over the years. They still sell Aussie flags all year round, but reckon there's been a broader chat about what 26 January means to different people in the community. They're focusing on offering a variety of products for customers to mark the day as they choose.

The reaction to Dutton's call has been a mixed bag. Retailer and business groups have hit back, saying that companies should be able to decide what they sell based on customer demand and their own values. The Australian Retailers Association and the Business Council of Australia have backed Woolies, pointing out that businesses often make decisions based on what their customers and employees expect from them.

This whole kerfuffle has sparked a fair bit of commentary on Australian political discourse in 2024. Some see Dutton's move as a bit of a backtrack from the traditional free enterprise stance of the Liberals, who've generally been all for letting businesses make their own decisions. It's been labelled as a bit of a twist in the tale, especially considering the right-wing's usual criticism of "cancel culture" and market intervention.

So, there you have it, the latest chapter in the ongoing saga of Aussie politics, where a supermarket's stock list has become a hot political potato. It's a tale that shows how intertwined politics and everyday life can become, and a reflection of the diverse opinions Australians hold about their national day. For more details on this brouhaha, you can check out an extended analysis of the situation by the folks over at Crikey.