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Wednesday, 27 May 1987
Page: 3459

(Question No. 4957)

Mr Ewen Cameron asked the Attorney-General, upon notice, on 26 November 1986:

(1) Is he able to say whether a Contracts Review Act has been in operation in N.S.W. since 24 April 1980.

(2) Have recommendations to legislate for a Contracts Review Act been submitted to previous Attorneys-General, if so, why has this legislation not been proceeded with.

(3) Will he consider introducing a Contracts Review Act in order to safeguard consumers from unconscionable contracts.

Mr Lionel Bowen —The answer to the honourable member's question is as follows:

(1) Yes, as advised in my answer to Question No. 2411 asked by the honourable member on 13 November 1985.

(2) and (3) Section 52a of the Commonwealth Trade Practices Act 1974 prohibits a corporation from, in trade or commerce, engaging in unconscionable conduct in connection with the supply or possible supply of goods or services to a consumer. The section was inserted by the Trade Practices Revision Act 1986 and came into effect on 1 June 1986. It implements, in part, a recommendation made by the Trade Practices Review Committee (the Swanson Committee) in 1976 and a proposal in the 1984 Green Paper entitled `The Trade Practices Act-Proposals for Change' which was released by the then Attorney-General, Senator Gareth Evans, the then Minister for Home Affairs and Environment, Mr Cohen and the Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations, Mr Willis. The section is designed to cover conduct which, while it may not be false or misleading, is nevertheless unconscionable in all the circumstances. The Federal Bureau of Consumer Affairs in my Department is monitoring the operation of the provision to ensure it is having the intended effect.

For further details see my response to Question No. 2411.