• A pack of 'frozen Australian lamb loin chops' at the local supermarket on Palm Island, Queensland. (Facebook. )Source: Facebook.
UPDATE: Community Enterprises Queensland says $82.27 pack of lamb chops on Palm Island "Incorrectly labelled" by the supplier.
By
Douglas Smith

Source:
NITV News
1 Mar 2020 - 8:59 AM  UPDATED 2 Mar 2020 - 11:45 AM

A photo posted on Facebook on Thursday sparked outrage after it showed a pack of lamb chops' costing $82.27 at a government-owned supermarket in the Indigenous community of Palm Island in Far North Queensland. 

The store is operated by Community Enterprises Queensland (CEQ), a government statutory body which provides goods and essential services to Indigenous communities in Queensland.

On their website, CEQ states that their stores provide fresh food and a "variety of other supermarket products at a fair price." However, locals on Palm Island say they are being "ripped off."

On Friday, NITV News' Queensland Correspondent, Douglas Smith, went to a local Coles Supermarket in Brisbane's West End, where the price per kilogram of lamb chops was $21.00, compared to almost double the price of $38.99 on Palm Island. 

Palm Island local, Sondra Gorringe, who took the photo and uploaded it to Facebook, told NITV News that people "struggled to get by" on the Island because of how expensive it was. 

"For shampoo and conditioner, they're about $9.00 each here and then in Townsville they're only like three or four dollars," said Ms Gorringe. 

"It used to be community-owned but now we have CEQ and the prices are pretty high."

As a mother, Ms Gorringe said she also struggled with the price of "kimbies" [nappies] for her son.  

"I remember when my son was wearing kimbies, they were like 30 bucks for an 18 pack or 20 pack.

Ms Gorringe said for around the same price at Coles or Woolworths in Townsville, you could buy a 108 pack of nappies. 

Townsville is now where Ms Gorringe said she buys most of her groceries because it works out cheaper.

"I work full-time so I'm okay and I normally get a $100 meat pack from Townsville and get it sent over on the plane and get groceries, but I reckon it would be hard for people still on Centrelink."

Ms Gorringe said food and other essential needs weren't the only expensive costs on the island, with electricity also being expensive. 

"We buy power cards here, so we don't pay electricity bills, we buy power cards, and that's about $50 a week for power."

Another local, Raymond Sibley, told NITV News he was especially concerned for people who were on Centrelink and didn't have work. 

"My thoughts is around the families who are on Centrelink, you know, some of them might get like $200 to $300 a fortnight and they gotta buy their power cards," said Mr Sibley. 

"The price of gas has gone up like $270 for a bottle.

"I mean, when you're living on that sort of income, how do you expect to make ends' meet?

"You come to the shop yourself and have a look...it doesn't go far."

In October 2019, the Courier Mail reported that six executive members of CEQ took home $135,000 worth of performance bonuses during the previous financial year, including chief executive officer Ian Copeland, who pocketed $60,000. 

A spokesperson for CEQ responded to NITV News on Sunday and said that Warwick Meats had made the error in packaging.

"The lamb meat pack identified by a Palm Island customer was incorrectly labelled by our supplier and as soon as our Palm Island store staff identified the issue, the item was removed from display and withdrawn from sale," said the spokesperson. 

The spokesperson said the company had also undertaken an average price comparison between their stores and Coles supermarkets, and they were proud with the results of the cost difference. 

"CEQ recently undertook a basket comparison between CEQ’s Everyday Low Price Basket on 40 common household items and the same items for sale in Coles, with just a $30 total shop price difference.

"We are very proud of this result when considering the higher ongoing costs associated with running a remote store, including increased freight, power, maintenance, and staffing costs," they said. 

NITV News has attempted to contact Warwick Meats.

- This article has been updated to include the response from Community Enterprises Queensland.

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