Travel Compensation Fund

03 Dec 2009 questionsarchive

I seek leave to make a brief explanation before asking the Minister for Consumer Affairs a question on the subject of the travel compensation fund.

The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: The travel compensation fund is an area which I have asked questions before and more recently the review terms of reference have been released in October with a tender offered through the Australian Government Tender Scheme has been posted with a consultant to review the review process. The Australian Federation of Travel Agents has stated that it is confident that these will allow for a robust and broad review. What input did South Australia have into the terms of reference, and is there any financial contribution from South Australia to the review?

The Hon. G.E. GAGO (Minister for State/Local Government Relations, Minister for the Status of Women, Minister for Consumer Affairs, Minister for Government Enterprises, Minister Assisting the Minister for Transport, Infrastructure and Energy) (14:32): In fact, shortly I am about to head off to Perth to a meeting of the Ministerial Council on Consumer Affairs, and this matter is one of the agenda items for a report. The Ministerial Council on Consumer Affairs has previously directed the Standing Committee of Officials of Consumer Affairs to commission a review of the effectiveness of the current consumer protection measures in the travel related services market, which the honourable member has asked questions on previously.

The travel industry's travel cooperative regulatory scheme dates back to the 1980s, so obviously it is time to have a further look at this. A key aspect of the cooperative scheme is the travel compensation fund, which is the mandatory industry funded scheme for compensating consumers in the event that consumers lose their pre-paid moneys to intermediaries. The cooperative scheme has been an effective model for nationally harmonised regulation of the travel service industry. However, obviously, there have been a number of changes in the travel service and the market generally since the 1980s and particularly with technological development around the purchasing process and the very heavy reliance on IT and also the increased overseas markets.

The Ministerial Council on Consumer Affairs is seeking to engage a consultant to undertake a review to examine and make recommendations for improving the existing state based industry specific consumer protection law and administrative arrangements for the travel industry. As the honourable member has mentioned. the commonwealth has drafted a request for tender for the provision of consultancy services. I am advised that that has been published on AusTender, and I am informed that it will close on 12 November 2009.

In relation to South Australia's input, we have officers from the agency who are members of the officers group, so we input through that mechanism. In relation to financial contributions, as far as I am aware, there has been no indication as yet of any additional financial requirements on the states. However, as I said, the process is still underway. I am about to fly to Perth and this is an agenda item for consideration, so it will be with great interest that I listen to the progress of this particular matter. To the best of my knowledge, at this point I am not anticipating any cost impost but, as I said, it is still being considered.