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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2010 Week 14 Hansard (Thursday, 9 December 2010) . . Page.. 6064 ..


scrutinise more than 270 elements of the legislation, because the pieces that are being dropped in consist of 270 sections or more—we are not prepared to support this legislation at this time.

MR RATTENBURY (Molonglo) (11.13): The Greens will be supporting this bill today, but only after we have done some detailed work and had some careful consideration of all of the issues raised. With regard to Mrs Dunne’s attempts to adjourn this bill for further consideration, as I said in the chamber on Tuesday, the Greens have taken each of the bills this week on a case-by-case basis and judged each of them on their merits. I made that comment in response to a motion by Mrs Dunne that attempted to join together all three justice-related bills before the Assembly this week and debate whether all of them should be passed.

We declined to support the motion because, as I have said, we see each bill individually and judge each on its merits. For the same reason, we did not support the adjournment today. I will address the reasons why shortly. In terms of the bill at hand, I would like to set out the framework we have used to assess this bill because I think that will illustrate the point that I am making on taking each bill on its merits.

In assessing this, we asked ourselves four questions. Firstly, the fundamental question: is the Australian Consumer Law a good law to implement? Secondly, has the Assembly had enough time to assess the bill? Thirdly, what impacts does the bill have on the sovereignty of the ACT Legislative Assembly? And, fourthly, and finally, on a local level in the ACT, how will business and consumers be told about the new consumer protection regime to commence on 1 January next year?

Using that framework I would like to address each question in turn. Firstly, that fundamental question: is the Australian Consumer Law a good law to implement? We believe the answer is clearly yes. The bill is good for consumers and good for business—one of those classic win-win scenarios.

It is good for consumers because for the first time all consumers across Australia will have the same level of protection. For the ACT, we have had a good level of consumer protection and the changes will retain that quality of protection. However, other jurisdictions will have their protections increased to come up to the national scheme, and that is to be supported as a good outcome.

One practical example of the uniform improvements will be the statutory guarantees adopted across Australia. This improves on the status quo where consumers have had to rely on implied guarantees and warranties to protect themselves from defective goods.

The difference between a statutory protection and an implied protection will mean a greater range of legislative remedies for consumers. Whereas currently the only real remedy open to consumers is compensation, the new national scheme will offer consumers the option of having replacement goods provided. For many, this is actually what they want, the goods replaced rather than compensation, which simply means they have to go out and buy the product again.


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