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Price gouging in a crisis should be illegal: CHOICE to QLD Government

CHOICE and the Indigenous Consumer Action Network (ICAN) call for urgent legislation to protect Queenslanders.

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Example captured by a CHOICE supporter in Gladstone, QLD

Consumer advocates CHOICE and the Indigenous Consumer Assistance Network (ICAN) have written to the QLD Attorney-General Yvette D'Ath with proposed legislation to stop price gouging on essentials during a crisis.

"The Queensland Government must stop the price gouging of essentials. This year alone we've seen large communities affected by bushfires and the whole of Queensland impacted by COVID-19," says Amy Pereira, CHOICE Campaigner.

"When these crises happen, sadly some Queensland businesses and people have shown they can't help but take advantage. We've had a wave of complaints about price hikes on essential goods, from hand sanitiser to medicine. This is a glaring gap in consumer laws in Queensland and we need it fixed as soon as possible," says Pereira.

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Excerpt of the CHOICE and ICAN letter sent to the QLD Government. Full PDF on Dropbox: https://shwca.se/pricegougingqld

The draft legislation proposed by CHOICE would allow the Attorney-General to set a 120% cap (of the original price) on essential items during an emergency period, which could be a natural disaster, pandemic lockdown or any situation where essential items are required for public health and safety. Similar legislation has been an effective tool for a number of US states in protecting their communities from price gouging in emergencies.

Under the legislation the minister would have discretion over what is deemed an essential item. CHOICE would expect ministerial discretion to cover items like personal protective equipment, sanitary items, essential groceries, medicine and baby formula.

Over 5,500 people in Queensland have joined CHOICE's call, with over 600 writing directly to the minister last week asking for urgent action. Queenslanders can join the campaign at choice.com.au/PriceGougingQLD

"CHOICE and ICAN are calling on the Queensland Government to fix this now. Over 29,000 Australians and 5,500 people in Queensland have supported CHOICE's call for an end to the price gouging of essentials," says Pereira.

Media contact: Katelyn Cameron, media@choice.com.au, 0430 172 669

Photos of CHOICE Campaigner Amy Pereira and PDF of letter and draft legislation in Dropbox: https://shwca.se/pricegougingqld