|Description of this GroupDescription of this Group|
Origins of State Involvement in Consumer Affairs
The appointment of a Minister for Consumer Affairs in 1973 represented a significant expansion of state involvement in Consumer affairs in Victoria. Prior to the establishment of this portfolio, the Consumers Protection Council (VA 2734) (1965 to 1970), Consumer Affairs Council (VA 3135) (from 1970) and the Consumer Protection Bureau (VA 2735) (from 1970) had carried out a charter of investigating consumer issues and specific consumer complaints and recommending practices to protect consumer interests. However until the commencement of the Consumer Protection Act in 1972 (No.2736), these agencies operated upon a limited legislative base and thus their role was primarily to advise the Ministers responsible and to act as a consumer advocate.
Between 1968 and 1973 agencies administering consumer affairs functions operated within the portfolio of Labour and Industry (VRG 42), and prior to 1968 under the direction of the Attorney-General (VRG 19).
Development of Consumer Legislation
The Consumer Protection Act 1972 established laws relating to a wide range of trading practices including advertising, prices, packaging, sale of faulty goods and product design and construction. The Ministry of Consumer Affairs was established in June 1974 to further develop consumer affairs policy and legislation, to promote consumer awareness and to investigate disputes between traders and consumers. The commencement of the Small Claims Tribunal, also in 1974, provided a means of adjudicating upon and enforcing consumer law.
The prime functions associated with this portfolio are,
Consumer Protection including
the development of product safety and information standards
preventing the distribution of hazardous goods
prosecution of traders who breach consumer protection legislation
elimination of unfair trade practices and maintenance of weights and measures standards
house-builders' liability matters (from 1985).
Adjudication of Complaints concerning
the provision of goods and services
the provision of credit
the sale of motor vehicles
motor car traders
Education and Community Awareness programmes designed to ensure that consumers and traders are aware of their rights and obligations and that information about unsafe products or unfair market practice is disseminated.
Administrative and Functional Changes since 1973.
Some significant changes to the responsibilities of the Minister have occurred since 1973. In 1981 the Minister became responsible for the administration of the Residential Tenancies Act (No.9514) which took effect that year and for the operations of the Residential Tenancies Tribunal, established under that Act. At the same time the Minister inherited responsibility for the determination of fair rents from the Attorney General (VRG 19). For a more detailed description of this function see VRG 19 Law. In 1984 responsibility for the maintenance of weights and measures standards was transferred to the portfolio of Consumer Affairs from Local Government (VRG 57) and responsibility for the regulation of fuel prices was transferred in 1985 from Consumer Affairs to the Minister for Industry, Technology and Resources (VRG 82). In 1989 responsibility for prices monitoring was transferred to Consumer Affairs from the portfolio of Property and Services (VRG 69).
Location of Records
Records of the Consumer Affairs Bureau, located within the Ministry of Consumer Affairs, are listed under section 3.7.3, List of Holdings, 2nd edition 1985. For records of the Small claims Tribunal see List of Holdings 2nd edition 1985 section 3.7.2.
Minister of Consumer Affairs 1973-ct