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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2010 Week 04 Hansard (Thursday, 25 March 2010) . . Page.. 1588 ..


Amendments in the bill to the Fair Trading (Consumer Affairs) Act 1973 will ensure that the fair trading framework established under that act applies to the motor vehicle repair industry, enhancing enforcement of the licensing scheme. Among other things, the amendments will ensure that fair trading inspectors will be able to use their powers to investigate complaints about the motor vehicle repair industry.

I would like to thank the Standing Committee on Justice and Community Safety for their scrutiny of the bill. I have prepared a detailed response to the committee’s comments, and will briefly reiterate the substantive content of that response for the Assembly.

Firstly, the committee sought an explanation for the setting of the commencement date of the act by written notice. This was done to allow sufficient flexibility in the timing of the commencement of the act to ensure a smooth transition from the existing registration scheme to the new business licensing scheme that would be provided for under the bill.

Secondly, the committee raised concerns over the appropriateness of the bill delegating power to the executive to make a regulation to prescribe certain matters for the act. The purpose for the delegation is to ensure that the regulatory scheme established under the bill can operate effectively.

The committee also raised concern over the process in the bill whereby a person may apply to the minister for an exemption from the operation of the act. I am confident that the process meets the committee’s requirements where it is desirable to confer a dispensing power on a minister. The scope of the power to make an exemption under the act is limited by a clearly defined and objective test. The minister must be satisfied on reasonable grounds that the exemption is not likely to cause a substantial detriment to consumers.

In relation to the committee’s recommendation to limit the grounds for disciplinary action to contraventions directly relevant to a person’s fitness to hold a licence, I consider that it is sufficiently clear that the bill already has this effect. It may even be that the additional wording proposed by the committee would be too narrowing, as contravention of a wide range of territory laws may be considered to relate to the fitness of a person to hold a licence depending on the way the contravention reflects on the person’s integrity and character in certain circumstances.

Finally, the committee raised concerns over the exercise of the power of the Commissioner for Fair Trading to determine that a person is not to be regarded as a disqualified person. Allowing the commissioner to have regard to matters additional to those specified in the bill is important to the appropriate exercise of the commissioner’s power in making the decision. The essential effect of the commissioner’s decision is that an individual, despite having committed a disqualifying act, can participate in the motor vehicle repair industry. While the bill specifies some considerations that the commissioner must have regard to, in making such a decision, the committee would recognise that no legislation or regulations could be expected to anticipate all of the considerations that may be relevant to


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