• Robyn McDonald
Consumer Affairs

The report on consumer credit law reform in New Zealand by the Consumers' Institute is a welcome contribution toward developing a clear understanding of the issues that need addressing in this area, Minister of Consumer Affairs, Robyn McDonald, said today.

"The Consumers' Institute's report has raised some worthwhile issues and is a valuable contribution to the work my Ministry has had underway for some months, scoping the issues that need addressing in terms of updating this country's consumer credit laws."

The scoping report is due for delivery to the Minister at the end of September.

"Before we undertake this work I want to know exactly what areas of the law need to be addressed, so once work starts we have a clear picture of what needs to be changed and the resources required to make sure consumer credit law meets the needs of consumers and traders."

Ms McDonald said because of the scope and scale of the work it may take up to three years to complete the review and have the changes passed into law.

"Reforming New Zealand's consumer credit laws is a large task consisting of several pieces of legislation owned by the Ministries of Consumer Affairs, Commerce and Justice. In order for the review to be thorough and effective, there will need to be extensive consultation over the three Ministeries and with many other parties to ensure we address all the issues appropriately."

Ms McDonald said there had been many changes in the credit market over the last 10 years and consumers' expectations of their rights had also changed. M/F... REVIEW/2

"There have been amendments to the legislation over the years to ensure it more closely reflected current issues. The most recent change was the amendment to the Credit (Repossession) Act which clarified the rights and responsibilties of consumers who enter into purchase agreements involving ongoing payments."

Ms McDonald said the Ministry of Consumer Affairs has also been involved in ongoing educational work with a wide range of parties.

"In the last financial year the Ministry completed training seminars for community agencies, such as Community Law Centres, Budget Advice Services and Citizens Advice Bureaux that included information on credit contracts, hire purchase, cash loans repossession and debt collection. The Ministry also provided some training to finance companies.

"I am determined a review of this country's consumer credit laws will not sit on the shelf for another 10 years. Once this scoping review has been completed, the Ministry of Consumer Affairs will have a clear picture of the changes and the resources required to effect them. This will enable us to deliver robust legislation as quickly as possible."