Response 411723313

Back to Response listing

Privacy Collection Statement

Do you agree to the Privacy Collection Statement?

Please select one item
(Required)
Ticked Yes, I agree and accept that my submission may be published.
Yes, I agree and would like to make a confidential submission.
No, I do not agree.

Introduction

What is your name?

Name:
Katinka Day

Are you an individual or responding on behalf of an organisation?

Individual or Organisation?
Please select one item
Individual
Ticked Organisation

Your organisation

What is the name of your organisation?

What is the name of your organisation?
CHOICE

Current regulatory framework

4.1. What should be the role of Australia’s measurement laws in a modern economy?

What should be the role of Australia’s measurement laws in a modern economy?
The main objectives of the Measurement Law Review (the Review) are heavily centered around economic benefit and trade activity. While these objectives are not unacceptable, the role of Australia’s measurement law has to be strongly driven by the needs of consumers. Ensuring consumers are adequately protected, informed and empowered should be at the forefront of measurement law. The importance of consumers being able to make informed decisions is an essential feature of a productive economy as was highlighted in Recommendation 21 of the Harper Review of Competition Policy which was accepted by the Federal Government. The Recommendation stated that “Governments should work with industry, consumer groups and privacy experts to allow consumers to access information in an efficient format to improve informed consumer choice”. Not only should measurement law seek to inform and empower consumers, it should also aim to increase consumer awareness of the importance and relevance of measurement. This would increase community involvement in measurement and help to identify and report on problems and gaps.

Measurement laws in other countries

5.1. What should be within the scope of Australia's measurement laws?

What is the appropriate scope of Australia measurement laws?
CHOICE believes the scope of Australia’s measurement laws should be comprehensive to ensure that the broad needs of consumers are adequately captured. Of prime concern is measurement that consumers directly interact with, for example measurement used to describe the quantity of goods and services and the provision of pricing via units of measure. In this regard, measurement law should ensure that this information is accurate, consistent, transparent, clear and legible. Information should also facilitate comparisons - this requires that measurements are displayed in a consistent and prominent way across products and categories. It is important that measurement law accounts for new technologies and new modes of consumer engagement with products and services. For example, consumers are increasingly buying and selling on the internet and new products and services may often require the development of measurement standards to support them (e.g. metering for electric car charging stations, or charging for internet data by the byte). To future-proof the law for developments in technology, the scope of the Review should be broad enough to account for this. In addition, the scope of measurement law should be decided upon in consultation with other key government departments. As measurement is used across a diverse range of portfolios such as health, energy, food and agriculture and the Treasury portfolio with its broad responsibility for consumer protection and competition, it is important for these Departments to input on the roles that measurement play in supporting their objectives.

Principles-based legislation

6.1. Would you be confident of operating in a principles-based regulatory environment for measurement? Why or why not?

Would you be confident of operating in regulatory environment for measurement that is characterised by principles-based legislation? Why?
CHOICE is extremely concerned that a principles-based regulatory environment for measurement would result in worse outcomes for consumers in areas of measurement that they interact with. By providing more flexibility through general principles rather than specific rules, principles-based regulation in relation to measurement law can result in provision of information that is inconsistent, or difficult to locate, read or understand. This greatly impacts on consumers’ ability to use this information and subsequently affects consumers’ confidence, trust and engagement with the information. In other words, principle-based regulation would not support comparability that is required for people to properly engage in markets and make informed decisions. Legibility of information is a prime concern to many consumers, especially older consumers or people with impaired visibility. If you were to use the principles-based approach of ‘legibility’ in relation to the provision of measurement marks for example, this would not serve consumers as legibility could be interpreted differently by individual manufacturers. Whereas a requirement to label the measurement mark a predetermined minimum height in a high-impact font/colour, would ensure that all manufacturers provide this information consistency, thereby better enabling consumers to read this information and make an informed decision. It is clear from other labelling approaches which have used principle-based regulation that it results in unclear, inconsistent and unhelpful labels. For example the provision of standard drink information, the percentage of alcohol for alcoholic beverages and the display of unit pricing. See Appendix A for examples.

6.2. Would the need for detailed guidance material limit the value and flexibility of a principles-based approach to measurement laws?

Would an implemented principles-based approach acquire such a quantity of additional guidance and specification that the value of the principle-based approach was neutralised?
CHOICE does not support a principles-based approach to measurement laws.