Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 8 Hansard (27 October) . . Page.. 2256 ..
Debate resumed from 24 September 1998, on motion by Mr Humphries:
That this Bill be agreed to in principle.
MR STANHOPE (Leader of the Opposition) (11.51): Mr Speaker, the Labor Party will support this Bill. The Consumer Credit Act and the accompanying Consumer Credit Code were in fact Labor Party initiatives in 1994. Following that, each jurisdiction in Australia adopted legislation similar to the ACT legislation after fairly lengthy deliberations by consumer affairs Ministers which were designed to significantly advance consumer protection. The Consumer Credit (Administration) Act was machinery legislation to implement the provisions of the parent Act.
This Bill, as has been outlined, essentially makes three amendments to the Consumer Credit (Administration) Act designed to improve the regulation of consumer credit. The first is an amendment to subsection 121(5) of the Act to remove uncertainty surrounding the ability of the Director of Consumer Affairs to use as evidence in any proceedings information or documents obtained under a notice to produce. That brings the ACT legislation into line with that operating in New South Wales, and we have no difficulty supporting that provision.
There are two other amendments of some significance that insert provisions into the Act essentially to remove the liability of a debtor to pay any amount owing under a contract signed with a credit provider or finance broker whose registration is cancelled or suspended and enabling a debtor to recover any such amounts paid during a period of suspension or cancellation. These amendments not only bring the ACT legislation into line with that operating in other jurisdictions, including the Commonwealth's Corporations Law and Trade Practices Act, but seem to me to be eminently sensible and a real signal to rogue credit providers or finance brokers that as well as facing potential criminal action as a result of their actions they may perhaps suffer the potentially greater penalty of losing the money that they sought to provide whilst not registered. It is a fairly significant stick with which to hit rogue unregistered credit providers or finance brokers. The Labor Party is happy to support this Bill, Mr Speaker.
MS TUCKER (11.53): The Greens will also be supporting this Bill. It seems to be basically affording consumers greater protection, which is obviously always desirable. This amendment helps individuals in Consumer Credit Act and Fair Trading Act matters. It will safeguard them by ensuring that the finance provider has complied with credit legislation.
MR HUMPHRIES (Acting Chief Minister, Attorney-General, Minister for Justice and Community Safety and Minister Assisting the Treasurer) (11.54), in reply: Mr Speaker, I thank members for their support for this Bill, which does tidy up provisions in the now moderately well-established consumer credit regime around Australia. I think these sorts of provisions are important to make sure that this operates in an effective way.