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Wednesday, 23 June 2010
Page: 6492


Dr EMERSON (Minister for Small Business, Independent Contractors and the Service Economy, Minister Assisting the Finance Minister on Deregulation and Minister for Competition Policy and Consumer Affairs) (5:22 PM) —in reply—I want to take this opportunity to thank all members for their contributions to the debate on the Trade Practices Amendment (Australian Consumer Law) Bill (No. 2) 2010. This represents the final step at the Commonwealth level to implement the most significant reforms in consumer laws in more than 30 years since the passage of the Trade Practices Act. This important reform of the Council of Australian Governments will bring about benefits of up to $4.5 billion a year for Australian consumers and businesses. The government, with the cooperation of our state and territory colleagues, Labor and Liberal, is on track to create a single national consumer law by 1 January 2011.

On 18 March 2010 the bill was referred to the Senate Economics Legislation Committee for inquiry and report. The committee received more than 40 submissions from stakeholders and members of the public. I thank the committee for its deliberations on this bill. On 21 May 2010 the committee recommended that the bill be passed. The committee and coalition members also made a number of other recommendations. The government has considered these recommendations and, after constructive discussions with the opposition, will move amendments in the Senate to address their concerns.

I want to take this opportunity to thank the shadow minister for consumer affairs, the member for Cowper, and the shadow minister for competition policy, the member for Dunkley, who is here in the chamber with us this evening, for their very constructive approach to the development of this legislation. I found the report of the Senate economics committee to be a valuable contribution. We have implemented a large number of the recommendations of the coalition members of that committee because they were developed with a constructive approach to seek to improve the law, and I thank the Senate economics committee and the coalition for their constructive approach to that. Often we have arguments about policy matters. Sometimes that is not so visible when we reach agreement, but it is very important because this is a major reform and a very important day as this legislation moves through the House of Representatives and towards the Senate. I understand it will be non-controversial legislation. Again, I thank the member for Cowper and the member for Dunkley for their contribution to that particular status of the bill, which gives it the maximum chance of passing during this session.

I want to also thank my colleagues on the Ministerial Council on Consumer Affairs for their hard work on the Australian Consumer Law over the past year, particularly at the meeting on 4 December 2009 which agreed to the content of this bill. I look forward to the start of next year, when all Australian consumers can enjoy the benefits of consistent rights, wherever they may be, and all Australian businesses can reap the benefits of a simplified, single national consumer law. I commend this bill to the House.

Question agreed to.

Bill read a second time.

Ordered that this bill be reported to the House without amendment.