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Thursday, 28 June 2018
Page: 4322


Senator O'NEILL (New South Wales) (12:58): I rise to speak on the Commerce (Trade Descriptions) Amendment Bill 2018 on behalf of the opposition. At the outset, I wish to indicate that the opposition will be supporting this bill. The result of the extended applications of the exceptions contained in this bill will be that an effective defence exists to a prosecution under the Commerce (Trade Descriptions) Act in a range of circumstances where the goods have substantially come from or have been made or manufactured in the country they are purported to come from. This is an uncontroversial reform which essentially harmonises the laws relating to consumer protection and trade descriptions. Australians rely on a compact between business and consumers. But, in order for that compact to work, consumers need to have enough money to spend on goods, and businesses need to be honest and act in good faith when they're trading. It's in the light of this compact that I note that this bill does nothing to shield businesses or people who are engaging in false or misleading conduct with respect to the country of origin of the goods they are making available to the public. Labor will always stand with consumers and will always ensure that the businesses and people who wilfully seek to fraudulently or falsely mislead Australian consumers are prosecuted.

I note that this bill ensures coherence and harmonisation across the statute book. This is a laudable objective for our laws, and Labor supports the government's efforts to ensure that there are no unintended inconsistencies in the laws governing consumer protection and trade descriptions. I commend the bill to the Senate.

Question agreed to.

Bill read a second time.