New ACCC and ASIC chiefs opportunities for consumer renewal
CHOICE welcomes the announcement of new heads for the ACCC and ASIC saying it gives both regulators the chance to renew and revitalise their focus on consumer issues.
Nick Stace, the group’s CEO, said the Australian Consumer Law not only needed to be better explained to the Australian public and industry but also used to its full extent to benefit consumers and promote competition.
“I spoke to Mr Sims earlier today and he assured me the importance he would give to consumer issues if he is appointed. His nomination is a very positive opportunity for consumer issues to be given the priority they deserve in order to drive better competition that works for consumers and for business.
“The first task of any new head must be to embed the new consumer laws and generate greater consumer awareness of their rights, but then it is time to fast-track the next generation of consumer powers,” said Mr Stace.
CHOICE wants the ACCC to:
- Proactively take action to protect consumers’ rights, including by enforcing the consumer guarantees provisions.
- Enforce unfair contract terms provisions by taking court action.
- Better educate consumers on their rights.
- Support consumers by actively regulating the market.
- Proactively monitor and investigate anticompetitive behaviour in markets like the utilities sector where consumers are already facing high price rises.
- Introduce new powers including ‘super-complaints’, allowing consumer groups to raise entrenched issues with the appropriate regulators.
CHOICE says Greg Medcraft’s appointment as Chairman of ASIC brings a balance of industry experience and a demonstrated understanding of consumer issues to the role.
“We are pleased to see Mr Medcraft take on this important role at a time when Australian consumers’ dealings with the financial sector, in areas like financial advice, mortgage exit fees and superannuation, are rightly being scrutinised and reformed,” said Mr Stace.
“Earlier today Mr Medcraft confirmed to me the importance of engaging with consumers and getting outcomes that work in their interests.”
CHOICE also recognises the contribution of outgoing ACCC chief Graeme Samuel, who has laid the groundwork of enhanced consumer powers that the new Chair must be ready to enforce.
• Ingrid Just, CHOICE Head of Media, 0430 172 669