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Submission to Consumer Safeguards Review - Part C: Choice and fairness

Commenting on the submission Ombudsman Judi Jones said:

“Since 2018, the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman (has welcomed the opportunities of the Consumer Safeguards Review to contribute to improved public policy settings and consumer outcomes in complaint handling.

“We are pleased to publish our submission to the Consumer Safeguards Review - Part C: Choice and fairness

“As the independent dispute resolution scheme for the telecommunications industry, the complaints we receive from individual consumers and small businesses put us in a unique position to provide insights about choice and fairness.  

“The current regulatory framework was designed over twenty years ago, and the structure of the telecommunications market has changed significantly in this time. Many consumer protection rules were devised at a time the state of technology and the number of participants in the market was very different. 

“One of the Government’s key proposals in Part C was to move essential rules that protect consumer choice and fairness from self-regulation to direct regulation. The Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman supports this change because it will ensure and enhance choice and fairness.  

“We recognise a well-functioning telecommunications market includes self-regulation for all matters requiring industry-specific expertise and collaboration between members of the supply chain. However, direct regulation is important for areas where detriment can result from consumers not being treated fairly or being prevented from making informed choices. The Department should carefully consider a future-facing approach to telecommunications as an essential service.

“We support empowering the industry regulator, the Australian Communications and Media Authority, so it can most effectively enforce compliance. This includes raising the maximum penalty amounts for breaches of codes and regulations, and setting up a registration scheme for retail service providers to embed minimum standards for market players and disincentivise activities such as phoenixing. The majority of the telecommunications industry is playing its part, and a registration regime will support an even playing field. 

“This review is an opportunity for all parties in the telecommunications sector to evaluate the effectiveness and fitness for purpose of the existing consumer protection framework.”