The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: I seek leave to make a brief explanation before asking the Minister for Industry and Trade, representing the Minister for Consumer Affairs, a question on credit cards.
The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: I have received a review document from an organisation called PPB, located at 26 Flinders Street, Adelaide, which publishes regular legal information and, in that document, the following comments are made in relation to credit cards. The briefing issues a warning to Australia in relation to its credit card policy and makes comparisons with the UK in which there are more credit cards than people. It is the only country in the European Union that is in that situation. It makes comparisons with Australia, in terms of the number of credit cards, that we are edging towards that ratio and states that the number of Australians bankrupted by credit card debt has doubled in the past five years to reach more than 4 300.
The document states that, in an interesting exercise, a reporter from The Sunday Telegraph in Sydney applied for and acquired in one afternoon a Coles-Myer credit card with a $4 000 limit, granted on the spot; a $1 000 line of credit from David Jones; approval from Harvey Norman for $6 000 credit towards a flat-screen television set; and from Buyers Edge a credit with a $2 000 limit, interest rate 27.5 per cent.
Debt counsellors are discovering that Australia’s low income earners typically carry about eight credit cards. The briefing then goes on to note that the Australian Capital Territory is the only state or territory where it is illegal to offer new credit cards to people or to increase their credit limits without first checking their capacity to properly service the new lines of credit. My questions are:
1. Has the minister considered any changes to South Australian legislation in this area and in comparison to how the legislation operates in the ACT?
2. How many bankruptcies have occurred in South Australia as a result of credit card debt?
3. Can the minister provide these bankruptcy figures on a per annum basis for each of the last 10 years?
The Hon. P. HOLLOWAY (Minister for Industry and Trade): I will refer that question to the Minister for Consumer Affairs and bring back a reply.
(Wednesday 25 May 2005)
In reply to Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK (28 February).
The Hon. P. HOLLOWAY: The Minister for Consumer Affairs has provided the following information:
2. and 3. This is not information held by the Office of Consumer and Business Affairs. The Bankruptcy Act 1966 is Commonwealth legislation administered by the Attorney-General of the Commonwealth Government. I refer the Honorable Member to information published by the relevant Commonwealth Government Department (Insolvency and Trustee Service Australia).