Designated complaints legislation welcomed


The ACCC has welcomed today’s introduction of legislation into Parliament that will enable certain consumer and small business groups to make designated complaints to the ACCC.

The designated complaints will be about significant and systemic market issues that relate to the ACCC’s powers or functions under the Competition and Consumer Act and the Australian Consumer Law.

“The proposed new designated complaints function will reinforce the importance of key issues impacting consumers and small business to the ACCC’s work, as well as the role of advocate organisations in detecting and highlighting emerging issues,” ACCC Chair Gina Cass-Gottlieb said.

“A number of our successful compliance and enforcement outcomes have come about from referrals to us by consumer or small business advocacy groups, so we welcome this proposed measure that will provide an official avenue for this information.”

“We consider it will reinforce public confidence in the responsiveness of the ACCC to the competition, consumer and fair trading issues significantly impacting the community,” Ms Cass-Gottlieb said.


The designated complaints function (Competition and Consumer Amendment (Fair Go for Consumers and Small Business) Bill 2024) was part of the current Federal Government’s election commitments and has been subject to consultation by Treasury.

Similar schemes also operate in the United Kingdom and Canada.

Under the proposed scheme certain consumer and business advocacy groups will be approved by the Minister to make designated complaints to the ACCC. Complaints will need to meet certain criteria, including that they relate to a significant or systemic market issue affecting consumers or small business in Australia, and that they relate to a breach of the Competition and Consumer Act or the ACCC’s powers or functions under the Act.

The ACCC will be required to assess and publicly respond to the designated complaint within 90 days. The ACCC’s response must state what further action, if any, will be taken in response to the complaint.

The scheme is expected to commence from July 2024.

ACCC matters arising from issues referred to it by consumer and small business advocacy groups, including:

  • In May 2021, Telstra was ordered to pay $50 million in penalties for engaging in unconscionable conduct when selling mobile contracts to Indigenous consumers. The issues that led to this case were brought to the ACCC’s attention by various financial counselling groups and other consumer advocates, such as Bush Money Mob.
  • In November 2021, the ACCC accepted court enforceable undertakings from the suppliers of CAMI and iTutor home tutoring software in which they admitted to using unfair contract terms to subscribe customers, and undertook to provide refunds and allow contract cancellations. The matter came to the ACCC’s attention following consumer complaints and referrals from Legal Aid NSW and the Consumer Action Law Centre.
  • In April 2021, Megasave Couriers Australia and its sole director were ordered to pay penalties totalling $2,020,000, and $500,000 in partial redress for false or misleading representations about guaranteed minimum weekly payments and guaranteed annual income, made to prospective franchisees. The matter came to the ACCC’s attention via franchisee complaints, and a referral of further complaints by the Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman.

/Public Release. View in full here.