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CHOICE to NSW Government: “Act on price gouging now”

May 15, 2020 Lifestyle No Comments Email Email

Consumer advocate CHOICE has written to the NSW Minister for Better Regulation and Innovation Kevin Anderson with proposed legislation to stop price gouging on essentials during a crisis.

“COVID-19 exposed a major gap in the ability of the New South Wales Government to respond in the midst of a crisis,” says Amy Pereira, CHOICE Campaigner.

“When Australians need access to essentials in a crisis, COVID-19 has shown that some opportunistic businesses and people can’t help themselves. We’ve had a wave of complaints about price hikes on essential goods, from hand sanitiser to freezers to gym equipment. This is a glaring gap in consumer laws in New South Wales and we need it fixed as soon as possible,” says Pereira.

The draft legislation proposed by CHOICE would allow the Minister for Better Regulation and Innovation to set a 120% cap (of the original price) on essential items during an emergency period, which could be a natural disaster, pandemic lockdown or any situation where essential items are required for public health and safety. Similar legislation has been an effective tool for a number of US states in protecting their communities from price gouging in emergencies.

Under the legislation the minister would have discretion over what is deemed an essential item. CHOICE would expect ministerial discretion to cover items like personal protective equipment, sanitary items, essential groceries, medicine and baby formula.

Over 8800 people in New South Wales have joined CHOICE’s call, with over 900 writing directly to the minister this week asking for urgent action. People in NSW can join the campaign at choice.com.au/PriceGouging

“Over 27,000 Australians and 8000 people in New South Wales have supported CHOICE’s call for an end to price gouging since the COVID-19 crisis began. The New South Wales Government can fix this now,” says Pereira.

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