Consumer Action believes that a regulatory scheme with well-designed rules will be ineffective in addressing industry or market-wide problems if it can only be enforced by individual consumers taking legal action against individual breaches of the law. Enforcement by regulators is thus an essential part of an effective consumer protection framework.
This new report, Regulator Watch: The Enforcement Performance of Australia’s Consumer Protection Regulators, was conceived in response to the absence of a public mechanism to compare whether, and if so, how much, enforcement work is being done by our various consumer protection regulators. In the absence of such a mechanism it is not possible to know whether regulators have performed well in applying their enforcement powers effectively in the interests of consumers.
The report finds that a number of regulators do not report on their work well. Regulators have not reported consistently over time and do not report consistently in relation to other similar regulators to enable comparison. The report also considers enforcement trends of the various regulators and considers a number of specific enforcement cultural and practice issues. It is our hope that report will be the basis for a dialogue regarding effective enforcement and the reporting of it.