Labor welcomes the Government belatedly heeding our advice and including important consumer affairs issues, affecting thousands of Australians, on today’s Consumer Affairs Ministers meeting agenda.

Labor has been calling for action from the Government to protect Australian consumers from opportunistic rip-off merchants.

The Turnbull Government has left Australian consumers exposed to everything from dodgy ticket scalping websites to unfair fees to receive bills by post, as predatory corporations target our community’s seniors and most vulnerable.

To add insult to injury, the maximum penalties for anti-consumer conduct are too low to be a meaningful deterrent.

Merely talking about it at a meeting, however, is not good enough.

Already this week we have seen the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission announce they will take third-party ticket resale company Viagogo to the Federal Court for alleged breaches of Australian Consumer Law.

The ACCC allege Viagogo have engaged in misleading and deceptive conduct, and false and misleading representations while reselling tickets to live entertainment and sporting events.

Consumer advocacy group CHOICE released their latest report yesterday calling for an urgent reform of the ticket sales industry which their study suggests is rife with trickery and confusion. 

Labor has been working to expose these rip-off companies and put pressure on the Government to act to protect Australian consumers.

Earlier this year, Labor introduced motions in the House of Representatives and the Senate urging the Government to outlaw the predatory practice of charging for paper bills – an increasingly widespread practice by some corporations, utility providers and telcos.

Charging for paper bills targets consumers on the wrong side of the digital divide and places an unfair cost burden on vulnerable consumers trying to access information which should be provided for free. 

Labor took to the last election a policy of increasing penalties for anti-consumer conduct from $1 million to $10 million, which we are pleased was adopted by the Government as their sole 2017 Budget announcement in the consumer affairs portfolio.

Malcolm Turnbull and the Minister responsible need to take action now to protect Australian consumers from these opportunistic businesses who only want to empty the pockets of hard working consumers.