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Budget 2006: Budget neglects consumers ... again.

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Laurie Ferguson Shadow Minister for Consumer Affairs Shadow Minister for Population Health and Health Regulation Wednesday 10 May 2006

Budget Neglects Consumers….Again

Peter Costello’s 11th budget has once more failed to address the urgent needs of Australian consumers. The Howard Government has again failed to recognise that Australian consumers make up the single largest group in the community.

Since coming to power, the Howard Government has sought to systematically destroy consumer protection by abolishing the consumer affairs portfolio and removing funding from peak consumer umbrella groups such as the Consumers Federation of Australia (CFA) and Australian Financial Counselling and Credit Reform Association (AFCRA).

Shadow Minister for Consumer Affairs Mr Laurie Ferguson said “with higher interest rates, higher petrol prices and the Government’s extreme industrial relations laws the need for effective consumer protection and representation has never been so critical. Howard and his Government have become out of touch. They are governing for big business whilst disregarding families and the little guy”.

Mr Ferguson said that “whilst the Howard Government is totally uninterested in the difficulties faced by Australian consumers, Labor Governments in all the States are filling this vital gap by making sure that their Consumer Affairs agencies are properly resourced and Consumer Affairs Ministers overseeing effective, efficient and most importantly fair consumer market interaction and protection”.

“The new economy is highly complex and diverse. Consumers are using an increasingly complex range of products and services in a largely deregulated market. You could not blame the average person for being confused and mystified by the countless rules, laws and regulations which govern our lives, yet the Howard Government steadfastly maintains the attitude that regulation and interference with the market is tantamount to a ‘nanny state’”.

“By once gain failing to provide any resources for consumer advocacy, the Howard Government is failing Australian consumers and paving the road for further ‘Americanisation’ of consumer interaction with business”.

Mr Ferguson endorsed comments by the Consumers Federation of Australia:

By continually disregarding the needs of consumers and the organisations that advocate on their behalf, the Howard government misses the opportunity to develop a rigorous and outward-focused environment for making consumer rights a reality and consumer policy an independent priority.

Mr Ferguson said “Labor is committed to ensure a future where consumers are once again the central focus of government decision making and where regulation and law making ensure that consumers get a fair deal”.


Contact: Khaldoun Hajaj 0404078692