CPRC supports the proposed amendments in Treasury Laws Amendment (Measures for a later sitting) Bill 2021: Unfair contract term reforms, which we believe will help move the onus away from consumers and small businesses to the businesses that engage in setting unfair contract terms. We particularly support the introduction of pecuniary penalties. Without penalties, the law thus far has offered little to no incentive for businesses to ensure terms are fair and reasonable or to course correct their current business practices.
However, while the proposed changes are a positive step forward, they are still not adequate in effectively protecting consumers who are now navigating through a hybrid market comprising both physical and digital transactions. Our submission calls for:
- proactive surveillance and enforcement of unfair contract terms to further reduce the onus on consumers to identify and report unfair contract terms
- implementation of other urgent reforms to complement the proposed unfair contract terms law, such as:
- introducing an unfair trading prohibition
- reforming the Privacy Act.
We call on the Australian government to urgently move away from a patchwork approach to consumer reforms, especially those reforms that cut across data and digital markets and move towards a more coordinated approach that puts citizens and consumers at the centre of change.