Labor to broaden ACCC powers

Australia's consumer watchdog will have a far broader range of powers under a Labor Government, including new protection measures for Internet and mobile phone users.

Announcing an audit of current consumer protection laws, Labor said the Australian Competition and Consumers Commission (ACCC) will be given the power to launch civil proceedings.

Opposition consumer affairs spokesman Lindsay Tanner said that currently, if the ACCC wants to take action, it has to launch a criminal prosecution which requires the Director of Public Prosecutions to act on its behalf.

"Most consumer protection laws were drafted in the 1970s before the use of Internet and mobile phones and consumers are now being exploited by service provider contracts," he said.

"We're proposing an audit of the existing laws ... to examine those laws in the context of the new economic situation that we're in and particularly things like mobile phone contracts."

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