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Food group welcomes review of consumer law

The Food and Grocery Council has welcomed the release of a discussion document on plans to review and rationalise consumer law.

Consumer Affairs Minister Heather Roy said yesterday the discussion document focused on a "one law one door" policy.

"One law refers to the goal of principles-based consumer-supplier legislation, while one door aims to provide a single portal consumers can use to seek advice and assistance when consumer transactions go awry," Mrs Roy said.

She said strong and relevant consumer legislation was an important contributor to consumer confidence and helped create a competitive environment where reputable businesses had protection from the operation of less reputable ones.

The document says most of the consumer laws covered in the review are more than 20 years old and questions whether there needs to be seven specific consumer laws dealing with consumer transactions.

It also addresses the government's goal to achieve a single economic market wherever possible with Australia, which is also undergoing a major consumer law review that is being closely monitored here.

Food and Grocery Council chief executive Katherine Rich said the review was significant and provided "a genuine opportunity to streamline existing consumer-related laws, some of which are over 80 years old."

Mrs Rich said some of the laws were particularly important to the grocery sector and were crucial to a well functioning market.

The Direct Selling Association (DSA) saidit was pleased a review was under way.

"The need for change has been evident for many years and we believe that by incorporating many of the highly prescriptive legislations into a more principled basis of legislation, this should be both a simplification and an empowerment of consumer rights through both self enforcement and the ability of the Commerce Commission to enforce rogue marketers," said DSA executive director Garth Wyllie.

He said proposed changes would not be detrimental to members, as law was simply catching up to some of the protections already offered by the DSA code of practice.

Submissions on the discussion document are due by the end of July and oral submissions will be heard in August.

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