Wednesday, 14 June 2017
Communications by Post
That the Senate—
(i) the rapid increase in the use of electronic communication technology in recent decades, including in commerce,
(ii) that access to electronic communication technology differs between Australians, and is often related to income, age, education level and remoteness,
(iii) that not all Australians have the skills and infrastructure to communicate effectively via electronic channels,
(iv) that many businesses, including banks, telecommunications companies and utilities, charge consumers an extra fee to receive communications via post, and
(v) that often the fee charged by companies to receive communications by post is intended as a disincentive, and does not represent the actual cost incurred by the company; and
(b) calls on the Government to bring forward legislation that will give consumers the right to receive communications from companies by post for no extra fee.
While the government agrees with the need to protect consumers and the sentiment of the motion, more work is needed before legislation can be considered. This work may include the matter being considered by the Legislative and Governance Forum on Consumer Affairs, which consists of all Commonwealth, state, territory and New Zealand ministers responsible for fair trading and consumer protection laws. This group is consulted and its approval must be given for changes to the Australian Consumer Law. The Minister for Small Business has asked Treasury to provide advice on this issue, including whether current provisions of the Australian Consumer Law or other relevant laws may assist or whether new legislation is required. The minister has met with consumer groups, including Keep Me Posted, on this matter on numerous occasions and is happy to discuss the process and advise senators in the near future.