Parliamentary record : Part I debates (27 February 1990)
Debates for 5th Assembly 1987 - 1990; ParliamentNT; Parliamentary Record; 5th Assembly 1987 - 1990
Made available by the Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory
Northern Territory Legislative Assembly
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Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory
DEBATES - Tuesday 27 February 1990 establishes a minimum acceptable standard of for nearly 15 years by the Commonwealth, legislation, it has become well understood community. conduct for busine'ss .. In use and now mirrored in state and accepted by the business Uniform proVlslons relating to consumer product safety and information standards, product recall, and enforcement and remedies have been included in the consolidated legislation. This will expand the capacity of Consumer Affairs to take action against dangerous and hazardous products. While adapted to suit local conditions, the basic adherence to uniformity has not been jeopardised, thus allowing for joint action with interstate agencies' in the future. The legislation provides for greater self-regulation' and industry co-regulation through the use of codes of practice to promote minimum standards of performance and fair dealing. In seeking. to minimise regu1ation"'codes of practice represent a viable alternative in terms of balancing the interests of the community and giving an appropriate level of certainty in which the industry can operate. In anticipation of these reforms, the Office of Consumer Affairs has expanded its activities and services over the last year or so. This expansion has included: the commencementof an agency role in the Territory by Consumer Affairs for the Commonwealth Trade Practices Commission, providing a Territory and Commonwealth one-stop shop service to the public on matters relating to consumer affairs and trade practices; continuing expansion of consumer awareness programs directed to Aboriginal audiences; and increased emphasis on the development of business education. Two specific review recommendations, which support this package "of reforms, have a1 ready been acted on. I refer to the reform of the Sma 11 Claims Act, which came into force in June 1989, and the proposal to establish a vehicle encumbrance register to protect the interests both of consumers and motor vehicle dealers. Officers of the Department of Transport and Works have worked on this proposal to a point where the Northern Territory is to integrate with the New South Wales register system known as REVS. I feel sure that the Minister for Transport and Works will have more to say on this issue and I do not wish to pre-empt any announcement that he may wish to make on its imminent commencement. Apart from the undoubted benefits of consolidating most consumer affairs provisions in a single act, the draft bill has 5 major elements. These include: firstly, expanding the definition of Iconsumer" to provide a greater range of Territory residents with access to the services and remedies of Consumer Affairs; modernising and updating of existing desIrable provisions; promoting the principles of fair trading rathe'r than the mere advancement of consumer protection; adoption of uniform provisions in relation to travel agents, door-to-door trading, product safety and fair trading; and introduction of co-regulation with industry and commerce by providing for the development of codes of practice. The introduction of the consolidated legislation will result in the repeal of the following legislation: the Consumer Protection Act, the Motor Vehicle Dealers Act, the Door-to-Door Sales Act, the Unordered Goods and Services Act, the False Advertising Act and the Trading Stamp Act. Associated regulations will be repealed or amended. I will now deal briefly with the main provisions of the Consumer Affairs Bill. Part I of the consolidated Consumer Affairs Bill will provide common 8753
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