NatRoad urges quick passage for unfair contract law

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The National Road Transport Association says it will be a race against time for the Federal Parliament to pass unfair contract legislation, following its introduction into the House of Representatives today.

It has urged all sides of politics to back changes to Australian Consumer Law and the Australian Securities and Investments Commission Act 2001.

NatRoad CEO Warren Clark said his organisation was delighted to see the Morrison Government had answered its calls to bring on the legislation, renewed late last week.

“We ask all sides of politics to show they’re serious about backing small business by passing the changes without delay,” Mr Clark said.

“After the struggles of COVID, unfair contract terms are a major concern for our industry where livelihoods are put at risk by the imbalance in favour of big corporates.”

Mr Clark said there had been ample time for law-makers to consider the changes.

Treasury released an exposure draft of a reform Bill in August last year, proposing a number of significant reforms aimed at strengthening protections for small businesses in relation to unfair contract terms.

In November 2020, Commonwealth, state and territory consumer Ministers decided to make unfair contract terms unlawful and give courts the power to impose a civil penalty, as well as strengthening the regulator’s powers.

Mr Clark said NatRoad wanted the regulator being given more power because small business members are reluctant to damage commercial relationships.

“They don’t want to endanger future work and they don’t have the resources to pursue legal remedies,” Mr Clark said.

The reforms are included in Schedule 4 to the Treasury Laws Amendment (Enhancing Tax Integrity and Supporting Business Investment) Bill 2022.