10 July 2015

Review to ensure national law continues to protect Australian consumers

I am pleased to announce Ministers for Consumer Affairs across Australia have agreed the terms of reference for the first review of the Australian Consumer Law (ACL) since its introduction on 1 January 2011.

The main aim of the review is to assess the law’s impact on protecting consumers and streamlining regulatory requirements for businesses, as well as the effectiveness of the collaborative enforcement model adopted by regulators administering the law.

Together with my state and territory colleagues, I encourage consumers and businesses to have their say as part of an upcoming national review of the ACL.

Overseen by Consumer Affairs Australia and New Zealand (CAANZ), the comprehensive review will formally commence in 2016, incorporating an extensive public consultation process, with a final report to Ministers in early 2017.

The ACL was an initiative of all Australian Governments, drawing on the recommendations of the Productivity Commission’s 2008 Review of Australia’s Consumer Policy Framework, as well as best practice in state and territory consumer laws, including a provision regulating unfair contract terms.

A key component of the review will be the second Australian Consumer Survey, which will build on the findings of the first Australian Consumer Survey conducted in 2010-11 and form part of the evidence base for the review.

The survey will assess the level of understanding by consumers and businesses of consumer laws, their application and enforcement and determine whether laws are working as intended to prevent unfair trading without unreasonably burdening businesses. 

The review will also examine the flexibility of the ACL to respond to new and emerging issues to ensure that it remains relevant into the future as the overarching consumer law in Australia.

Information about the review is available on the ACL website.