Dutton 'coming after' shopping crime gangs
"Highly-organised" black-market sellers are being blamed for the panic-buying phenomenon gripping supermarkets across the nation as police crackdown on those profiteering from the crisis and urge others to dob them in.
Police are launching a massive crackdown on criminal groups hoarding essential items from supermarkets and reselling them overseas as the government plans a targeted home delivery program for the elderly.
Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton told 2GB's Ray Hadley organised criminal groups were being investigated for depriving everyday Australians of critical groceries.
"We do have some people profiteering, hoarding not for consumption and either selling overseas or in a black market arrangement in Australia. We are going to come after those people and give them a fair warning now it won't be a pretty experience."
Police were swooping in on the behaviour, targeting areas where hoarding has been reported, Mr Dutton said.
"We will come down like a tonne of bricks on those individuals because I think they're the ones that have created this pattern of behaviour with hoarding and clearing shelves and normally sensible people have been wrapped in this because they've panicked when they've seen the shelves empty," he said.
The government is now urging Australians to do the right thing and not follow the lead of criminals in hoarding items for resale.
"You're making it harder for people who are the most vulnerable, those on a pension, self-funded retirees who may not be buying more than a couple of days groceries because they can't afford it. You need to stop," he said.
Dutton also reassured Australians that we have "more food in this country than we can consume" and urged everyone to only buy what is necessary.
"Please show an example to your neighbour, person shopping beside, be sensible about purchases and we can restore normality," he said.
It was put to Mr Dutton by Hadley that organised groups were sending buses into regional towns and clearing out supermarkets
"It's a busload of Asian Australians I presume with a trailer on the back, just going to these shopping centres and shops... Aldi, Coles and Woollies and clearing the joint out." Hadley said.
"I'm at a loss, do they sell it at local stores or take it elsewhere? Do you know where all the items are going?"
"Yes, I do but investigations are underway so I'm not going into more detail," Mr Dutton replied.
Photos and footage have shown people of all ethnicities hoarding groceries across Sydney.
MAJOR MOVE TO GET GOODS ONTO SUPERMARKET SHELVES
Agriculture Minister David Littleproud has urged shoppers to calm down, insisting there is no risk to Australia's food security because of coronavirus.
The federal Nationals deputy leader said Australia produced enough food for 75 million people, three times the nation's population.
"There is no risk of us having any issues around food security," he told ABC News Breakfast television on Thursday.
He said the only pressure on supply chains was coming from the stupidity of people who are panic buying.
"They need to take a deep breath, have a cold shower and understand that if they shop normally, then the shelves will be stocked normally," Mr Littleproud said.
Foreign Minister Marise Payne said discussions about relaxing night truck curfews were underway with local councils to allow more deliveries to supermarkets.
"We will be engaging in those conversations to make sure we are facilitating the delivery of goods into supermarkets," she told Seven's Sunrise.
Coles has taken out full-page newspaper advertisements announcing limits on toilet paper, pasta, flour, eggs, some meat, hand sanitiser and soaps.
Business Council of Australia chief executive Jennifer Westacott said supermarket staff had been abused by people looking to strip shelves of essential items or frustrated because items weren't available. "It's unfair and it's unnecessary. There's no supply problem here. There's a selfishness problem," she told ABC Radio National.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Wednesday issued a blunt message to people hoarding food.
"Stop it. It's not sensible, it's not helpful and I've got to say it's been one of the most disappointing things I've seen in Australian behaviour in response to this crisis," he said.
"That is not who we are as a people."