Commonwealth, State and Territory Consumer Affairs Ministers met in Adelaide on Friday 9 September 2022 with a renewed commitment to collaboration across borders and to strengthen consumer protections.

Ministers attending the meeting, chaired by South Australian Minister for Consumer Affairs Andrea Michaels, discussed and agreed on priorities for future work, which include:

  • legislation to make unfair contract terms unlawful and subject to penalties under the Australian Consumer Law (ACL)
  • increasing existing penalties for breaches of the ACL
  • improved capability and collaboration to combat scams
  • considering reforms to consumer guarantees and supplier indemnification provisions
  • consulting on proposed reforms to address unfair trading practices
  • releasing a discussion paper on travel services to inform ACL learnings across all service sectors following COVID-19

Ministers welcomed the bill recently introduced by Minister Jones into the Commonwealth Parliament that will strengthen the consumer protection framework for consumers of small amount credit contracts and consumer leases, through the introduction of new obligations for providers of these credit products.

Ministers also welcomed an update in relation to state and territory fundraising law reform as an important issue to support the charitable sector.

Ministers look forward to continuing to work together closely on progressing these issues.

Attendees at Friday’s meeting included:

  • Commonwealth Assistant Treasurer and Minister for Financial Services, Stephen Jones
  • New South Wales Minister for Customer Service and Digital Government, Small Business, and Fair Trading, Victor Dominello
  • Western Australian Minister for Commerce, Roger Cook
  • Tasmanian Attorney-General and Minister for Workplace Safety and Consumer Affairs,  Elise Archer
  • Australian Capital Territory Attorney-General and Minister for Consumer Affairs, Shane Rattenbury.

Senior departmental officials from Victoria, Queensland and Northern Territory were also in attendance.

Quotes attributable to South Australian Minister for Consumer Affairs Andrea Michaels

Consumer Affairs Ministers are determined to improve the protections available to consumers – at a state, territory and national level

Unfair contract term reforms are a significant part of strengthening these protections, and Ministers were pleased to see progress of new legislation that is due to be introduced to the Commonwealth Parliament shortly. Importantly, under this legislation penalties will be introduced for unfair contract terms.

The COVID-19 pandemic had a significant impact on businesses and consumers. Ministers discussed and agreed to undertake further work on the lessons learned and emerging trends.”