FAIR TRADING AMENDMENT (UNFAIR CONTRACT TERMS) BILL – Wednesday, 5 May 2010

Posted on 13. May, 2010 in Speeches

Mr LIM (Clayton) — I rise to speak in support of the bill; its purpose, as the house has heard from previous speakers, is to align the Victorian definition of ‘unfair contracts’ more closely with the national standard. The bill does this by amending part 2B of the Victoria Fair Trading Act 1999 to achieve broad consistency with the Commonwealth Trade Practices Amendment (Australian Consumer Law) Bill 2009.

For those who believe in a laissez faire system of government, who say the government should butt out of regulating business, I say protecting consumers is an important area of legislation and regulation. I think Labor has a very strong and proud tradition of providing such protection. It is not enough to say, ‘Let the marketplace sort it out’. There is an obvious imbalance in power between those who provide the goods and services and the individual consumer.

Indeed one could say the marketplace works best when the relationship is equal, when consumers are informed, have rights and understand them and, if necessary, have an agency they can turn to if these rights are being trampled on. This is particularly so when it comes to unfair contracts. Where there is a written contract, it is usually written by the provider of the goods and services. Without legislation protecting the consumer from unfair contracts, an unscrupulous merchant would hold all the cards.

This bill is about addressing this imbalance. I am conscious of the time, so I will cut short my contribution to the debate. I commend the bill to the house and wish it a very speedy passage.

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