Consumer regulators have today released a report on their collaborative efforts in administering the Australian Consumer Law (ACL) over the last twelve months.
The report shines a light on some of the key policy, education and enforcement activities undertaken by the members of Consumer Affairs Australia and New Zealand (CAANZ) during the 2019-20 financial year, and in doing so illustrates the success of the one-law, multiple regulator model established under the ACL.
It also outlines the challenges and impacts of 2019-20 for regulators and consumers, including the bushfires across the country as well as the COVID-19 pandemic.
Some of the highlights detailed in this year’s report include:
- the proactive approach taken to support consumers and inform business and industry during the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly in areas such as the travel and product safety;
- enforcing the ACL proportionately and effectively, achieving a significant $285 million in fines, penalties, costs and compensation (up from $97 million in 2018-19);
- consumer awareness of safety issues such as button batteries, quad bikes and high-powered magnets as well as informing consumers around gift card reforms, romance scams and enhancing recall effectiveness;
- continuing activity to facilitate the nation-wide Takata airbag recall;
- preventing unfair practices in areas such as contract terms. Undue harassment, product claims and misleading conduct; and
- supporting vulnerable and disadvantaged consumers through effective action against a provider for failure to deliver services and another for unconscionable conduct.
Current Chair of CAANZ and Commissioner for Fair Trading in the Australian Capital Territory, David Snowden, said the report demonstrates the importance and benefit of regulator cooperation and collaboration across borders and jurisdictions.
“This year has provided unprecedented challenges for consumers as well as regulators alike, as we have worked through the impacts of COVID-19 as well as the bushfires which ravaged great parts of our country,” Mr Snowden said.
“Through the collective efforts of ACL regulators we have worked to support consumers navigate these challenges in a connected way, while in addition also continuing our important focus on ACL education and proportionate enforcement to support consumer redress.”
The report is available to view at consumerlaw.gov.au/.