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CONSUMER CREDIT BILL 1995
MR HUMPHRIES (Attorney-General and Minister for Consumer Affairs) (10.42): Mr Speaker, I present the Consumer Credit Bill 1995, together with its explanatory memorandum. I also present the following paper:
Consumer Credit (Queensland) Bill 1994 - Incorporating the Consumer Credit Code.
Title read by Clerk.
MR HUMPHRIES: I move:
That this Bill be agreed to in principle.
The Consumer Credit Bill and the Consumer Credit Code represent the culmination of many years’ work by consumer affairs Ministers and officers throughout Australia. The legislation has been released in a number of previous forms, none of which achieved the consensus between credit providers, consumer organisations, professional organisations or the community which was needed to ensure its progress through the parliaments of the Australian States and Territories.
The Bill now before the Assembly, while not necessarily meeting all of the aspirations of all of the competing interests of Australia, nevertheless represents our best efforts to achieve sustainable and progressive laws for the regulation of consumer credit. It is a unique Bill, not only because of its contents but also because of the opportunity it presents for cooperative federalism in Australia. For many, the prospect of the States and Territories agreeing to a set of laws on which there has been so much acrimonious debate seemed remote. Yet what we have achieved as States and Territories is a law which will significantly advance consumer protection and at the same time ensure that product diversity and competition are optimised.
The Bill attempts to provide strong consumer protection while recognising that competition and product innovation must be enhanced and encouraged by the development of non-prescriptive flexible laws. Unlike the existing consumer credit laws, there is no artificial monetary limit. The legislation applies to all consumer credit lending. The Bill does not set a maximum interest rate, but it does give the Executive power to make regulations prescribing a maximum annual percentage rate. This is not dealt with in the code and is a recognised non-uniform issue. This provision is intended to be a safeguard against possible unscrupulous activities by fringe credit providers.
The Consumer Credit Code, which is attached to the Bill, is intended to form the basis of consumer credit laws throughout Australia. Queensland passed this legislation on 2 September 1994. We are proposing to pass an application of laws Act applying the Consumer Credit Code to the Territory. This means that, when the code and regulations are modified, those changes will be picked up in those jurisdictions, resulting in uniformity both in substance and in timing. Amending legislation may not be introduced into the