TIM HAMMOND MP
SHADOW MINISTER FOR CONSUMER AFFAIRS
SHADOW MINISTER ASSISTING FOR RESOURCES
FEDERAL MEMBER FOR PERTH
DR ANDREW LEIGH MP
SHADOW ASSISTANT TREASURER
SHADOW MINISTER FOR COMPETITION AND PRODUCTIVITY
SHADOW MINISTER FOR TRADE IN SERVICES
SHADOW MINISTER FOR CHARITIES AND NOT-FOR-PROFITS
MEMBER FOR FENNER
TURNBULL GOVERNMENT FINALLY WELCOMES PC’s CONSUMER REPORT AND…THAT’S IT
The Turnbull Government is unable or unwilling to commit to protecting consumers with higher penalties for dodgy operators, despite all the positive advice it is receiving.
In fact, it was nearly 8.30pm yesterday evening before Michael McCormack, the Turnbull government’s Minister for Small Business, finally managed to welcome yesterday morning’s public release of the Productivity Commission’s Consumer Law Enforcement and Administration report.
The Turnbull government had been given the report on the 29th of March, and it made no announcements on the report’s recommendations, beyond a facile explanation of what the Productivity Commission reported.
Perhaps the Minister just missed its release?
This limp outcome is symptomatic of the Turnbull government’s refusal to take the lead on penalising shonks. With the release of Consumer Affairs Australia and New Zealand’s report into the Australian Consumer Law due next week, it is time for the government to explain what it will do to look after consumers.
We suggest that, instead of protecting multinationals, the government should listen to Labor and its own experts.
Labor proposes to increase maximum penalties for shonky conduct from $1.1 million to $10 million, bringing them in-line with the competition provisions of the Competition and Consumer Act 2010.
The Productivity Commission found that, “Maximum financial penalties available under the ACL are small relative to the benefits that a business can accrue by breaching the ACL.” (Finding 4.5).
This finding has been echoed by Rod Sims, the Chairman of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, and was favourably mentioned by Consumer Affairs Australia and New Zealand in its interim report.
Increasing penalties for ripping off consumers ensures Australia’s competition laws are strong and helping families, raising productivity and boosting living standards. Under Labor’s plan, penalties for anti-consumer conduct will no longer be disregarded as a cost of doing business.
Under the Turnbull Government, consumers remain exposed to rip-off merchants for no good reason.
The Productivity Commission’s report is available here: http://www.pc.gov.au/inquiries/completed/consumer-law/report