Searching for a National Consumer Policy Reform Program?
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In October 2004, the Productivity Commission released a Discussion Draft of its review of the National Competition Policy Reforms. While this discussion draft is largely focused on competition and economic outcomes, it also includes a draft proposal for a national review of consumer protection policy and administration in Australia. The writer argues that such a review is long overdue. The consumer protection provisions of the TPA have not been subject to a comprehensive review in 30 years, and there is a risk that they are failing to keep up with changes in consumer markets, developments in other countries and in the States and Territories, and a more sophisticated understanding of consumer behaviour. However, the Productivity Commission’s proposal appears to be pre-occupied with consumer policy as a subset of competition policy. Instead, the writer suggests that if consumers are to obtain the full benefits of a review, that review must treat consumer policy as a high level policy goal in its own right, recognise the limitations of competition theory and practice in protecting consumers, especially those who are vulnerable or disadvantaged, and be supported by leadership from the Commonwealth Government.
Competition & Consumer Law Journal
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