Labor's consumer data right backflip leaves small businesses & consumers paying more - Friday 28 June 2024

Friday, 28 June 2024

Labor’s commitment to greater competition is in tatters after Labor backflipped on a commitment to legislate the next tranche of legislation for the Consumer Data Right this sitting week.


The Consumer Data Right is a key competition initiative that embeds consumer protections, makes it easier for consumers to switch accounts, and supports greater competition across banking and energy. 


The Treasury Laws Amendment (Consumer Data Right) Bill 2022 would enable “action initiation” under the consumer data right.


The reforms would allow consumers in energy and banking to direct accredited persons to securely instruct on actions on their behalf, such as making a payment, opening and closing an account, switching providers and updating personal details.


The legislation would also support small businesses by allowing for easier payments, new services, increased participation in the digital economy, providing new business opportunities and reducing the costs of doing business.


Despite tri-partisan support, the Consumer Data Right legislation has now sat in the Senate for more than a year, with Labor unwilling to bring the Bill for a vote.


On multiple occasions this term, Labor has passed legislation in as little as a day.


Senator Katy Gallagher committed to dealing with the Bill in the June sitting block during Senate Estimates, yet the Bill was dropped from government business during the week.


Shadow Treasurer Angus Taylor said it was critical the government pass the Bill to deliver better competition and lower prices to consumers.


“Australian families and small businesses are struggling under the weight of Labor’s cost-of-living and cost-of-doing-business crisis.


“Enabling consumer switching and better competition is essential to boosting productivity and bringing down prices. The ACCC Chair has confirmed the CDR adds value for consumers and competition.


“After three failed budgets, a 10% increase in prices and 12 interest rate rises under Labor, the least Labor can do is deliver on their commitment to competition and supporting consumers by passing this legislation.”

Shadow Assistant Treasurer and Minister for Financial Services Luke Howarth said inaction on the Consumer Data Right is costing everyday Australians and small businesses.


“Consumers and small businesses are doing it tough under the Albanese Government. Energy and mortgage costs continue to surge and the Consumer Data Right has the potential to help them find and switch to a better deal from their bank or energy provider.


“The innovative sector supporting this reform deserve certainty from this Government on whether it backs the Consumer Data Right or not.”

Shadow Assistant Minister for Competition, Charities and Treasury Dean Smith said Assistant Treasurer Stephen Jones might have called the bill a ‘game changer’, but he’s now left it in limbo.


“The Government talks a big game on competition but is more concerned with making new announcements and commencing new reviews without delivering on its existing promises.


“Progressing the CDR boosts both competition and productivity agendas and Labor’s delays are denying Australian consumers desperately needed competition benefits and productivity gains.”