Effective implementation the real Wallis challenge: ACCC

21 April 1997
The effective implementation of the recommendations of the Wallis Report into the financial system was its real challenge, Australian Competition and Consumer Commission Deputy Chairman, Mr Allan Asher, said in Sydney today. "The philosophy and principles of the Wallis Report have been widely endorsed," Mr Asher said.

"But also there are some major challenges for Government to formulate and implement new regulatory measures which will ensure that these is genuine increase in consumer welfare.

"A feature of the Wallis Report, and a potential difficulty confronting its effective implementation, is the assumption that consumer protection and competition issues are able to be separated. The ACCC has often stressed the point that consumer protection is an integral part of competition and competition is an equally important part of consumer protection.

"Ironically, the Wallis Report is permeated by the sensible philosophy that competition is vital for enhancing consumer welfare. However, in an administrative sense, the Report then separated the two issues. The ACCC has often found that many cases involving potential breaches of Part V of the Trade Practices Act also involve other parts of the Act. For example, it is quite common that unconscionable conduct also involves elements of misleading and deceptive conduct."

Mr Asher said he saw the need for the proposed Corporation and Financial Services Commission but the Wallis Report's recommendations on consumer protection gave the ACCC 'some concern'.

It was important the new body had the 'right mix' of people with the right training and skills, a clear integration and alignment of purpose; appropriate management strategies; legal experience and the wherewithal to pursue and win litigation; a record of success and integrity in enforcement activity; and a recognised, respected profile amongst industry and consumers.

Mr Asher said the with the move towards globalisation and borderless markets, the ACCC was pleased the Wallis Report recognised the trend and recommended the CFSC work in this area.

"It is important to note, however, that the ACCC is also well placed to observe how new forms of electronic and borderless commerce will impact on market structures and upon the regulatory arrangements adopted to protect individual consumers. The ACCC is currently pursuing enforcement action against international 'scammers' that perpetrate fraud against Australian consumers through a process of international cooperation with other national enforcement agencies."

Further information Mr Allan Asher, Deputy Chairman, (06) 264 2838 Ms Lin Enright, Director, Public Relations, (06) 264 2808
Release number: 
MR 036/97