The BCA supports reform of the consumer protection laws in Australia, and in particular the development of a nationally consistent approach.
However, draft national unfair contracts provisions proposed by the federal government represent a significant departure from previous considerations of a national consumer law framework, as well as from models adopted elsewhere in Australia and overseas.
Effective competition laws are a key contributor to the continuing success of the Australian economy. These laws should support vigorous competition as a means of driving productivity, efficient markets and lower prices for consumers.
Through the course of their normal operations, businesses should not be hampered by the imposition of unnecessary and inappropriate additional costs in business-to-business transactions.
As currently drafted, the proposals represent a substantial change to the fundamental underlying principles of contract law and present a significant risk to businesses across all sectors. We are concerned that the draft provisions will stifle ordinary business activities.
It is also important that any new business laws or proposed changes to existing laws be subject to a proper economic analysis in conjunction with timely, comprehensive and meaningful consultation with business.
The draft consumer protection laws directly contradict commitments made by the federal government to pursue proper regulatory process and evidenced-based policy development. The short timeframe provided for submissions is also of concern.