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Grocery shortages in remote community stores to persist for weeks

Photo: Remote food shortages to persist for weeks
The federal government is doing everything it can to address grocery shortages in remote community stores, Minister for Indigenous Australians Ken Wyatt says.

Grocery shortages at stores in remote communities are expected to persist for a couple of weeks, but the federal government says it is working on a remedy as part of its national COVID-19 response.

Mai Wiru, a not-for-profit organisation that runs shops in the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara Lands in South Australia's far northwest, says stores are receiving as little as 40 per cent of their orders as suppliers meet increased demand from big supermarkets.

Residents are struggling to secure basic items including toilet paper and baby formula.
Federal Minister for Indigenous Australians Ken Wyatt met with Northern Territory Chief Minister Michael Gunner, the Arnhem Land Progress Association, Islanders Board of Industry and Service, Outback Stores, Coles, Woolworths and Metcash on Wednesday to discuss the problem.

"There is no need for people in remote communities to stock-up or hoard supplies and we need the community's help to resist the panic buying we've seen in urban areas," Mr Wyatt said.

"I am aware of some community stores not receiving their full order and a limited number of stores having stock issues. This is something that all Australians are experiencing to some extent.

"People can expect some pressure on stock levels for a couple of weeks, but we are doing everything we can to resolve those issues as they develop."

Prime Minister Scott Morrison told parliament the new national COVID-19 Coordination Commission, led by former Fortescue Metals Group chief executive Nev Power, was working with Mr Wyatt and state premiers to ensure supply lines were replenished.

"Recently I spoke to Prime Minister Trudeau and it is a similar issue in Canada for the remote indigenous communities," Mr Morrison said.

"We are employing very similar measures - we had a good discussion about that - to protect, insulate but maintain supply of support to those communities, not just food but essential service."

The Central Land Council in the Northern Territory says remote community residents paid on average 60 per cent more for a healthy food basket in their local stores even before the pandemic hit.

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