Assistant Treasurer and Minister for Competition Policy and Consumer Affairs
3 December 2007 - 8 June 2009
Review of Australia's Consumer Policy Framework - Release of the Productivity Commission Final Report
The Minister for Competition Policy and Consumer Affairs, Chris Bowen MP, welcomes today's release of the Productivity Commission's final report of the Review of Australia's Consumer Policy Framework.
"This report provides a unique opportunity to examine Australia's approach to consumer policy and ensure that the legal and regulatory framework provides the best outcomes possible for Australian consumers," Mr Bowen said.
"Consumer policy is a priority for the Rudd Government and the Productivity Commission has made a number of valuable recommendations to contribute to the way forward for consumer policy in Australia.
"We will consider these recommendations and, as agreed by the Council of Australian Governments (CoAG), respond formally at the end of October 2008."
The Productivity Commission's key recommendations include:
- a single national generic consumer law, based on the Trade Practices Act 1974 (TPA), which would apply in all States and Territories;
- identifying unnecessary or costly consumer regulation that only applies in a few States and Territories, or to one industry, and either removing them or, if justified, introducing nationally consistent rules;
- transferring regulation of credit providers and finance brokers to the Australian Government, with the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) as the regulator;
- national laws to tackle unfair terms in consumer contracts;
- a national approach to product safety laws and enforcement; and
- new redress and enforcement powers for consumer regulators, including the ability to seek redress for non-parties, civil pecuniary penalties, banning orders and substantiation notices.
"The report highlights that across the board, there is a need for greater involvement by the Australian Government in consumer policy and law enforcement. This is a task the Rudd Government takes very seriously and it is reflected in my role as a Minister with dedicated responsibility for consumer affairs," Mr Bowen said.
"The development of truly national markets means that Australian consumers should expect to be treated in the same way, regardless of where they live."
The Minister noted that the Government was already taking action in a number of areas identified in the report.
"The Australian Government is committed to agreeing to a national approach for product safety reform at the upcoming MCCA meeting, affirming this Government's commitment to ensure products are safe for all consumers," Mr Bowen said.
"Close cooperation between the Australian Government and the States and Territories will be essential to achieving effective consumer policy reform. This is reflected by COAG's close interest in this area. MCCA and COAG's Business Regulation and Competition Working Group (BRCWG) provide a solid platform for delivering lasting reform."
"I look forward to discussing the Commission's recommendations with my State and Territory colleagues at the next Ministerial Council on Consumer Affairs (MCCA) meeting on 23 May 2008."
The Commission also recommended an enhanced role for the Australian Government in consumer policy.
"I am grateful to the Commission for the effort it has put into preparing this important report and to all of those who have contributed their views."
The Productivity Commission was commissioned to review Australia's consumer policy framework in December 2006. It published a draft report in December 2007. In the course of conducting the review the PC received more than 250 submissions and conducted public hearings.
The final report Review of Australia's Consumer Policy Framework is available at the Productivity Commission's website: www.pc.gov.au.
8 May 2008
Media Contact - James Cullen 0409 719 879