Page 458 - Week 02 - Tuesday, 4 March 2008

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confident that they have regard to their obligations in the ACT when it comes to telemarketing activities.

Thirdly, Telstra nevertheless have raised a range of circumstances where there may be the need for reconsideration of cooling-off periods and whether or not they should apply in particular circumstances around the telemarketing activities of Telstra and those of other entities. My view on this and the government’s view is that any change to the cooling-off period for telemarketing activities covered by the Door-to-Door Trading Act should be the subject of broader discussion with the community, in particular with consumer groups. It would be imprudent for the Assembly to legislate on these matters without discussing the ramifications and analysing the ramifications more broadly.

It may well be the case that the issues raised by Telstra are quite legitimate and the changes that they propose are relatively straightforward. But I am hesitant to remove consumer protections, as suggested by Telstra, without some discussion and engagement with consumer groups and other stakeholders. My position to Telstra has been that the government will not make amendments to this bill, the Regulatory Services Legislation Amendment Bill, at this time, but we are very open to considering the issues in more detail. I have asked officers of my department to meet further with representatives of Telstra so that these matters can be further clarified and discussed in more detail. The government will then consider whether there is a need for a separate amending bill to deal with these issues.

It is clear that telemarketing activities are very complex in nature, and it can be the case that, in an attempt to solicit somebody’s custom through telemarketing, an existing consumer may choose to request a change to an existing service or contract. At the moment, that is captured by the gamut of the Door-to-Door Trading Act. Whether or not it should be in the future I think warrants further discussion. That is our position. We will progress it on that point. The government is engaged in this discussion and is keen to address any legitimate concerns that Telstra have raised. I believe there are a number of legitimate concerns, but the timing around the passage of this bill, first of all, makes it impracticable to do so. I would not want to delay the overall implementation of these important reforms for the operations of the Office of Regulatory Services. Secondly, I would not want to enter into changes around cooling-off periods, which are designed to protect consumers, without further discussion with consumer groups.

Clause 25 agreed to.

Clause 26.

MR STEFANIAK (Ginninderra) (5.51): I hear what the Attorney-General says. I do have some concerns. I note from the notice paper that we oppose the clause. Let me assure members that I am hardly going to call a division on that. I just worry, again, about what the people from Telstra told us. I will reiterate it. What is provided here is fine. We do not want to see fly-by-nighters being unscrupulous and causing problems for consumers. But, by the same token, we surely do not want unintended consequences to cause a lot of problems for consumers either.

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