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Council of Australian Governments (COAG)

Reforms to streamline national laws

The Council of Australian Governments (COAG) seamless National Economy reform agenda has had, and continues to have, a significant impact on consumer protection in Western Australia.

The 36 reforms referred to in the National Partnership Agreement to Deliver a Seamless National Economy include:

  • 27 deregulation reform priorities;
  • eight priority areas for competition reform; and
  • a commitment to develop and enhance existing processes for regulation making and review.

Of the 27 deregulation priorities the following have impacted or will impact consumer protection laws:

National Occupational Licensing System (NOLS)

On 13 December 2013 the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) decided not to proceed with national occupational licensing.

Expected implementation dates:
January 2011: New National Occupational Licensing Authority - established.
Late 2013: Commencement of new National Occupational Licensing System

A new national occupational licensing system is to be established in accordance with COAG’s Intergovernmental Agreement (IGA) signed in April 2009. The occupations to be included are: builders, painters, plumbers, real estate agents, settlement agents, and land valuers.  All of these occupations are licensed with the Commerce portfolio.

Under the IGA a new National Occupational Licensing Authority (NOLA) was established in January 2011 and will delegate the actual administration of licensing to existing State and Territory agencies.

For more information visit the NOLA website.

Copies of the IGA and the RIS are available from the National Licensing website.

In general terms, the purpose of the reform is to make it easier for people to work in different States or Territories, while maintaining licensing standards.

Trade Measurement

Implementation date: 1 July 2010 - completed

From 1 July 2010 the National Measurement Institute (NMI), Australia’s peak measurement body, has assumed the responsibility of trade measurement nationally.

The National Trade Measurement Act and the new National Trade Measurement Regulations 2009 (Cth) are available online

The NMI has produced a fact sheet with a general overview of the regulations.

The NMI website has further information on the transition to a national system of trade measurement.

Wine labelling

Implementation date:  2009 - completed

Requirements for the labelling of the volume in wine containers have been amended so Australia can become a signatory to the World Wine Trade Group’s Agreement on Wine Labelling.

Consumer Policy Framework - Australian Consumer Law

Implementation date: 1 January 2011 - completed

This project has established a consistent set of generic consumer laws. It has aligned the consumer protection provisions of the Commonwealth Trade Practices Act and all States’ and Territories’ Fair Trading Acts. The generic consumer law is known as the Australian Consumer Law (ACL). 

Enforcement of the Australian Consumer Law remains a joint responsibility of the ACCC and State/Territory consumer agencies.

There are several guides available explaining the changes have occurred as a result of this new legislation, including:

  1. The Australian Consumer Law: An Introduction
  2. The Australian Consumer Law: A Guide to Provisions

More information can be found at the Australian Consumer Law website.

Product Safety Legislation

Implementation date: 1 January 2011 - completed

Amendments to product safety legislation have been integrated into the Australian Consumer Law. Changes to the law allows individual States and Territories to establish temporary bans but only the Commonwealth Minister is now able to impose permanent bans.

Enforcement of the product safety laws remain a joint responsibility of the ACCC and State/Territory consumer agencies. The Product Safety website has further information on the new national system for Product Safety

Credit and Finance Broking

Implementation date: 1 July 2010 - completed

This COAG project has resulted in the enactment by the Commonwealth of the National Consumer Credit Protection Act 2009 with the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) taking on the responsibility for:

  • regulating consumer credit and the activities of finance brokers, and
  • a national licensing regime for both credit providers and finance brokers.

The National Consumer Credit Protection Act 2009 has replaced the existing State-based Uniform Consumer Credit Code. The Code has been adopted in Schedule 1 of the Act as the National Credit Code. The National Consumer Credit Protection Act 2009 is now in force. This legislation governs the provision of credit for use mainly for personal, household or domestic purposes. Disclosure requirements and maximum interest rates are a central part of these laws. Rules relating to consumer credit and finance broking will now be administered by ASIC and copies of all the relevant documents are available from the Commonwealth Treasury

Business Names

Implementation date: 28 May 2012 - completed

Responsibility for registering business names has transferred from the States and Territories to the Commonwealth Government. Business names are recorded in a national register administered by the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC).

Existing business names were transferred from State and Territory registers to the national system.

For further information, including how to search business names and how to apply for a business name, visit the ASIC website. 

Personal Property Securities (PPS)

Transition date: 30 January 2012 - completed

As part of the personal property securities (PPS) reforms, a national register has been established to record security interests in personal property. The PPS Register replaced the Western Australian Register of Encumbered Vehicles (REVS) and equivalent registers in other States and Territories.

The PPS Register applies to many forms of personal property such as cars, boats and crops. A potential purchaser of the property can use the PPS Register to determine whether there are any existing interests (or encumbrances) in the property.

The PPS Register is administered by the Insolvency and Trustee Service of Australia (ITSA) and is available online at www.ppsr.gov.au or by calling 1300 007 777.

Fundraising

Implementation date: dates to be notified.

The Commonwealth Government has decided to establish an Australian Charities and Not for Profits Commission (ACNC).

The Commission is exptected to commence operations in late 2012. The Commission will take over a range of functions from the Australian Tax Office in relation to approvals of charities for tax exempt status. 

The Commonwealth has also forshadowed a number of changed to governance and reporting arrangements for charities and not for profits that may conflict with existing state requirements. 

For more information visit ACNC Taskforce website.