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ACCC backs down on 'pay to have your say'

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Media Release by…

ALAN GRIFFIN MP Shadow Minister for Consumer Protection & Consumer Health

16 August 2003


Today’s report in the Herald Sun that the ACCC was planning to charge members of the public to attend a public hearing is unprecedented and outrageous.

As part of the current review of Mobile Telephony Services being conducted by the ACCC, the only public hearing scheduled to allow people to have their say was to come at a cost of $60 per person.

The ACCC initially said that this is a seminar and therefore it’s OK to charge. However, the public advertisement for the hearing says it’s a public hearing, the discussion paper for the review says it’s a public hearing and the Australian Consumers Association has been told that it’s a public hearing.

Even the ACCC’s own consumer publication, Consumer Express, says it’s a public hearing.

It is appalling that the ACCC was planning to charge people to have their say at a public hearing. It is also unbelievable that they then sought to pretend that this is a seminar.

That they have backed down is welcome, but the fact that a back down was necessary is of real concern.

Hopefully charges like this are not a sign of things to come at the ACCC under its new Chairman, Graeme Samuel. Introduction of a ‘pay to have your say’ system would be a huge backward step for our national consumer watchdog.

For further information please contact: Alan Griffin: 0419 353 476