Fair Trading (Repeal of Part 6A - Gift Cards) Amendment Bill

Second Reading

The Fair Trading (Repeal of Part 6A—Gift Cards) Amendment Bill 2020 seeks to amend the Fair Trading Act 1987 to repeal provisions relating to the regulation of gift cards.

 

I remind members that the Marshall Liberal government introduced gift card regulation in 2018 to mandate a minimum three-year expiry date and prohibit extra charges after a gift card was supplied. The fulfilment of this election commitment provided South Australian consumers greater protection from unreasonable time frames and conditions when redeeming gift cards. We as a government are very proud of this initiative, so why are we proposing to repeal it now?

Since this time, the commonwealth implemented a national scheme through the Australian Consumer Law (commonly referred to as the ACL). No doubt our legislation and New South Wales’ own equivalent helped persuade the commonwealth of reform in this area. Consequently, all consumers across Australia can now expect a minimum three-year expiry on gift cards. This national approach also assists retailers by providing clarity as to their responsibility with just one set of rules in the future.

We were quick to implement this important consumer protection, but now it is time to let the national scheme apply without any complications that arise from the duplication of the state-based gift card regulations. Like the state-based gift card regulations, the commonwealth government is unable to exempt certain gift cards, persons and gift cards supplied in particular circumstances from all or some of the requirements. The exemptions in place under the Competition and Consumer Regulations 2010 are broadly similar to what we have in place in SA.

The national scheme also goes further to require that the expiry date must be prominently displayed on the gift card, making the expiry information more accessible for consumers. The penalties under the ACL offer a strong deterrent against noncompliance. A breach of the requirements relating to the three-year expiry display of the expiry date and post-supply fees carries a maximum penalty of $30,000 for a body corporate and $6,000 for other persons. Furthermore, compliance officers from Consumer and Business Services will continue to be responsible for enforcing these requirements under the ACL in addition to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission.

While the introduction of these laws was welcomed as a positive measure by the opposition at the time, including the former attorney, the repeal of these laws addresses Mr Rau's specific concern about enforceability when consumer protection regulation is fragmented between the commonwealth and the states. I agree with the former attorney-general that national approaches to consumer protection are in theory optimum for this very reason, but I again repeat to the house his observation that glaciers and the national Consumer Affairs Forum have much in common.

Nevertheless, I am pleased that these laws have finally been implemented at a national level, giving all Australians the same level of protection and consistency for retailers, especially in circumstances where retailers operate across jurisdictions and where the purchaser of the gift card lives in another state. The government does not wish to complicate the regulation of gift cards now that the commonwealth provisions are in place, which is why we seek to repeal the state provisions under the Fair Trading Act 1987.

Mr Speaker, I commend this bill to the house and seek leave to insert the explanation of clauses into Hansard without my reading it.

Leave granted.

Explanation of Clauses

Part 1—Preliminary

1—Short title

2—Commencement

3—Amendment provisions

These clauses are formal.

Part 2—Amendment of Fair Trading Act 1987

4—Repeal of Part 6A

This clause repeals Part 6A of the Act.

Debate adjourned on motion of Dr Close.