15 June 2023

Address to the ACCC National Consumer Congress


I‘d like to start by acknowledging the traditional custodians of the land on which I’m filming this today, the Ngunnawal people, and pay my respects to elders past, present and emerging.

I’d also like to extend my respects to any Aboriginal or Torres Strait islander people who are present at the Congress.

It is a pleasure to address the National Consumer Congress, and I welcome the opportunity to update you all on consumer law developments over the past 12 months.

I would have loved to be there in person but Parliament is sitting this week.

When I came to this role a year ago, consumer policy had been neglected by my predecessors for the best part of a decade.

Crucial interventions and reforms that we had long called for in opposition needed urgent action.

An explosion scam losses.

The Recommendations from the review into small amount credit contracts that had been sitting in a drawer for six years.

Buy Now, Pay Later products had no regulatory framework around them and there was no plan to develop one.

On each of these issues, consumers had been left to fend for themselves. The government had stepped away and left them with it.

That era is over.

Let me talk you through what we’re doing.


Australians are losing $3 billion a year to scams, and that’s just the reported figure. It’s likely to be much higher.

And losses to scams have been increasing exponentially – up five fold in 2022 from 2020.

Coming into government, we promised a comprehensive anti‑scam platform, including establishing a National Anti‑Scams Centre, tough new industry codes, and supporting crucial functions like ID Recovery services.

In the May Budget we delivered.

We brought forward an $86.5 million package to combat scams and protect Australians, headlined by the establishment of the National Anti‑Scam Centre within the ACCC.

We’ll be consulting on industry codes soon, and I look forward to engaging with you all on that important next step.

For the first time, the government is going to stand shoulder to shoulder with Australians and take the fight up to the scammers.

It will likely take some time for scam losses to stop rising and start falling, but we have taken the critical first step and started the fightback.

Consumer Credit

On Consumer Credit, I’m sure you’re all familiar with the 2016 SACCs Review, which made a suite of strong recommendations to better regulate payday loans and consumer leases.

The previous government sat on it for six years. We took swift action and legislated strong consumer protections.

This was urgent work that we needed to get going straight away, given the serious consumer harm associated with some of these products.

Now we are looking to Buy Now, Pay Later products, and how we can better regulate them to ensure affordable and responsible lending practices.

Next steps

In our first year, we have made big strides, and addressed what I saw as the most critical, high‑priority issues on the consumer agenda.

But we’re not slowing down.

I’ve mentioned scam codes, and BNPL legislation, which will be progressing over the next 6‑12 months.

We are also looking at Unfair Trading Practices, another problem that’s been left to fester for too long.

In the digital economy, unfair trading practices can include things like ‑

  • tricking consumers into consenting to data collection;
  • omitting vital information to stop consumers making informed decisions; or
  • preying on vulnerable consumers using excessive tracking of data.

These practices harm consumers and distort competition, but more and more of them are avoiding the reaches of law, particularly in the digital economy.

Two of the ACCC’s recent inquiries have recommended a prohibition on unfair trading practices, and jurisdictions such as the EU, UK, the US and Singapore already have regulations in place.

In considering the right course of action in Australia, we need to know the full extent of consumer and small business harm.

To do that we’re in the final stages of developing a Consultation Paper on unfair trading practices, which will seek feedback from all of you present at the Congress, as well as the wider business and legal community.

Feedback will be invaluable in helping us consider the best options for addressing unfair trading practices.

I’m pleased to announce that we will be releasing the consultation paper next month.

I look forward to working with all of you to get this right.


I’ve touched on some of the critical work we’ve been doing in the consumer space over the last year, and some we’re looking to progress in the near future.

There’s always more to do in the consumer policy, and we rely on working closely with all of you to find the right settings to best protect Australian consumers.

There is one thing you can be sure of: Australians now have a government that sees consumer protection as core economic policy.

The era of consumer neglect is over.

Thanks to the ACCC for inviting me to address you and enjoy the rest of the conference.