Internal government relations team meets with politicians rather than advisors: Woolworths. Photo: Glenn Hunt
News that Woolworths has been briefing politicians about the threat to its business by German-owned Aldi throws light on the thriving lobbying community employed by all supermarkets.
The lobbyist registers and in-house groups are full of former politicians, including two former treasurers, and political advisers from both sides of the aisle.
A confidential Woolworths' document claims its market share of supermarket sales was 28 per cent and has remained static since 2009, while Aldi's market share has grown by 3 per cent.
These claims were designed to offset reports from the competition watchdog that Woolworths' market share was too big, which was why it blocked several applications to open or buy new supermarkets.
A Woolworths spokeswoman said it has an internal government relations team that meets politicians rather than external advisers. This team was headed by Andrew Hall, the former federal director of the National Party. Mr Hall left the Nationals in 2007 to become the Woolworths director of corporate and public affairs.
The Woolworths government relations team also includes former Liberal Party advisers Nathalie Samia and Kate Blunden, and former Labor Party councillor and adviser Michael Samaras.
Coles, a subsidiary of Wesfarmers, uses ECG Advisory Solutions, which is run by former treasurer Peter Costello and two of his former advisers, David Gazard and Jonathan Epstein.
However, Coles also met directly with politicians, its general manager of corporate affairs, Robert Hadler, said.
''Coles makes its own representations to both the government and opposition in Canberra on all material matters.''