Keep Me Posted has scored a big win, with a Senate motion calling for legislation giving consumers the right to receive paper communications by post for no extra fee, being passed.
Senator Anne Urquhart, Chief Opposition Whip in the Senate and Labor Senator for Tasmania tabled a motion to the Senate supporting her colleague, Tim Hammond MP, Shadow Minister for Consumer Affairs, calling on the Government to “bring forward legislation that will give consumers the right to receive communications from companies by post for no extra fee.”
Keep Me Posted says it has been advocating for legislative change to restore consumer protection against unfair paper fees since its launch in April 2016.
Senator Urquhart’s motion was passed with a majority, gaining support from Labor, Greens, NXT and independent senators Darren Hinch and Jackie Lambie.
Kellie Northwood, executive director, Keep Me Posted, says: “This is a tremendous win for the Keep Me Posted campaign and the wider paper, print and mail industries who have been working in a collaborative approach with Trade Unions, Australia Post and Community Groups to take a stand against this appalling attack on every Australian’s right to choose how they wish to receive communications.
“The Telstra Digital Inclusion Index shows that the most digitally excluded communities are people aged 65 and over, people with disability, Indigenous Australians, new migrants, people in the low-income bracket or not in paid employment. Currently, 3.5 million Australian do not have home internet access and ACCC’s Scamwatch reports 42 per cent of scams are delivered by email or on the email – we must follow our international colleagues and provide consumer protection for Australians.
The Federal Government did not support the motion directly, however Senator McGrath, Queensland Assistant Minister to the Prime Minister says, “While the government agrees with the need to protect consumers and the sentiment of the motion, more work is needed before legislation can be considered.”
Senator McGrath says Minister McCormack, Minister for Small Business is investigating the area and reviewing the provisions within the current Australian Consumer Law legislation, “The minister has met with consumer groups, including Keep Me Posted, on this matter on numerous occasions and is happy to discuss the process and advise senators in the near future.
Northwood says the Keep Me Posted campaign welcomes the support from Government insisting that amendments to the Australian Consumer Law remains the clearest path to prevent service providers and banks from charging a fee for electronic or paper transaction communications not only for consumers but also for the finance, telco and utility sectors who at the moment, do not have clear legislation either way.
“We expect businesses and banks to take a pragmatic and reasonable approach. We are not saying they cannot capture the cost of doing business within the cost of a product or service, we are arguing that they do so appropriately and in an upfront manner, not hidden away in paper fees," explains Northwood.
Comment below to have your say on this story.
If you have a news story or tip-off, get in touch at [email protected]
Sign up to the Sprinter newsletter