FAIR TRADING (REPEAL OF PART 6A - GIFT CARDS) AMENDMENT BILL

Mr PEDERICK (Hammond) (17:05): I rise to make a short contribution in regard to the Fair Trading (Repeal of Part 6A—Gift Cards) Amendment Bill. This is another way the Marshall Liberal government is reducing red tape in this state. When this legislation was passed initially, it was quite legitimate in the fact that there was a deep concern that the allowance for cashing in gift cards was too short a time frame. For that reason, it needed to be extended to make it far more practical.

It is quite easy to receive a gift card, whether it is a Christmas present, a birthday present or just out of the blue. It can be put away in a drawer or a cupboard and disappear, so I think this is very sensible legislation. The bill only became an act in 2018, and that was to ensure that gift cards had a minimum three-year expiry date and to prohibit extra charges after a gift card had been supplied. This was a commitment we took to the election, and it provided our state's consumers greater protection from unreasonable time frames, as I have just indicated, and expectations when redeeming gift cards.

As recently as November 2019, national laws under the Australian Consumer Law (ACL) came into effect that largely duplicate the state-based protections. To simplify the regulation of gift cards in South Australia, we are proposing to repeal the existing gift card provisions under part 6A of the Fair Trading Act 1987 to ensure that the regulation of gift cards is nationally consistent and clear for both consumers and retailers. It will fix up duplication and red tape at the retailer end. As in South Australia, the national protections include a minimum three-year expiry period and prohibit charging post-supply fees.

In addition, the new national regime requires the expiry date to be clearly disclosed on the gift card. The commonwealth legislation also allows for certain exemptions to be prescribed by regulation in the Competition and Consumer Regulations 2010. Whilst there are some minor differences between the commonwealth and state exemptions, these are in the main the same. Repealing the South Australian provisions will simplify the regulation of gift cards by reducing red tape for businesses, in particular those operating across jurisdictions, making the provisions easier to enforce and easier for consumers to understand their rights.

The penalties under the Australian Consumer Law (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 carry a maximum penalty of $30,000 for a body corporate and $6,000 for other persons. Compliance officers from Consumer and Business Services will continue to be responsible for enforcing these requirements under the Australian Consumer Law, as well as the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission.

Now that the national scheme has been operational for some months, it is best that these provisions are repealed, put in place and let the Australian Consumer Law regime apply consistently across Australia. As indicated earlier in my contribution, this is a realistic and excellent way to get rid of red tape duplication of regulation for businesses to operate by, especially in the COVID environment we are operating in at the minute.

Businesses are hurting, really hurting, but I will acknowledge the support that both we as a state Liberal government and the Scott Morrison federal Liberal national government are giving to businesses and individuals right across this country to make sure that we get out the other side of COVID-19, or the coronavirus as it is.

We certainly have our struggles, as we note, with our interstate friends, whether that be in Victoria or New South Wales, to make a point. I know there are a few gibes about Victoria especially but also about New South Wales, but the thing is that we must all pull together. I acknowledge the other assistance that we have given as a state to send healthcare workers and others interstate to assist these states, because the sooner that all these states can pull through the other side of COVID—and it is looking very dark days at the minute, especially for Victoria—the sooner our businesses and industries can be better off, and a lot of these businesses do manage gift cards.

I think this is an excellent repeal piece of legislation so that we just line up with the national scheme. I commend the bill to the house.