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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2001 Week 9 Hansard (23 August) . . Page.. 3251 ..

MR STANHOPE (continuing):

impact negatively on ACT consumers. This is not a good idea, Attorney. I honestly do not understand why you picked it.

There are other provisions of this bill said by the Attorney to be necessary to remove inconsistencies with the Trade Practices Act, or to be necessary housekeeping amendments to tidy up our statute book, but which seem to remove some consumer rights. I would be more prepared to accept the Attorney's explanation of these changes if there had been some public consultation and discussion of the amendments. You are racking up a very bad record on consultation, Attorney. Once again, there was no public consultation by the Attorney on a bill he has presented.

There is provision for a Fair Trading Advisory Committee to advise the Attorney on these matters. I understand that all appointments to this committee expired in April and no new appointments have been made. The Assembly is being asked to take the government's word that these amendments are, in fact, inconsistencies and housekeeping.

The provisions which are said to be inconsistent with Commonwealth law have been coexisting with the Commonwealth law for many years, and both the Australian Constitution and the self-government act provide a mechanism for determining which of Commonwealth or state and territory law is to prevail if they are inconsistent. An advisory committee would have been able to give the Assembly greater assurances that ACT consumers' rights are not being lessened by these amendments. As it is, I had to seek advice and assurances from other sources.

In summary, Mr Speaker, the Labor Party is happy to support what are obviously beneficial provisions of this bill, but will be opposing those provisions where the explanation or justification is seriously dubious. I foreshadow as well, Mr Speaker, that I have a number of amendments which I will propose but which I understand the government is pleased to accept.

MS TUCKER (11.53): The Greens are generally supportive of this piece of legislation, although we do have some concerns similar to those outlined by Mr Stanhope. In particular, I am concerned about the question of local financial services. I believe that the ACT Fair Trading Office should still have power over local financial services. I understand the argument that the Commonwealth body has jurisdiction and that it is contradictory for us to have that same power. However, in our consultation, particularly from the Australian Consumers Association, we have come to the position that it can be seen to be complementary, not contradictory. Therefore we will be supporting, I think, Mr Stanhope's amendments on this. It is also important-I have to say this for the record-that the Office of Fair Trading has the resources to properly do this work.

MR STEFANIAK (Minister for Education and Attorney-General) (11.54), in reply: I am a bit amazed at some of Mr Stanhope's comments. He talks about the Fair Trading Advisory Committee. I seem to recall appointments. I think some reappointments recently went through cabinet.

Mr Speaker, I thank members for their comments generally. The proposed amendments in the Fair Trading Legislation Amendment Bill significantly enhance the consumer protection powers in the ACT. In particular, they permit the Commissioner for Fair

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