Consumer groups help ensure continuation of travel compensation fund

The Travel Compensation Fund (TCF) protects consumers against loss if a travel agent becomes insolvent. Consumer group submissions have been important in ensuring that the TCF continues to offer statutory protection to Australian consumers.

Earlier this  year a government discussion paper raised options for the future of the TCF. One option was to wind up the fund – an option that woudl have seenconsumers’ legislative protection replaced with an untested industry proposal.

In April 2011 CFA members CHOICE and Queensland Consumers Association (QCA) each made a written submissions.   These were the only submissions made by consumer organisations.  QCA also met with state officials to ensure they understood consumer concerns.

In July the Ministerial Council on Consumer Affairs rejected the option to wind-up the TCF and indicated that it supported “further development of a Travel Industry Transition Plan, in consultation with industry and consumers, as a pathway to an industry-wide regulatory approach, which complements industry efforts to promote confidence and quality, and maintains appropriate levels of consumer protection.”

It is not yet clear when consultations with consumers on the Transition Plan will commence.

After the Ministerial meeting the Queensland Minister, Paul Lucas MLA reaffirmed his commitment to the consumer protection measures that the Travel Compensation Fund offers today and said

“Until such time as an adequate replacement or better consumer protections are on the table, I will not consider abolishing the fund,”

“Just because something isn’t working perfectly doesn’t mean you can just go ahead and abolish it – that would leave consumers in the lurch. This is about finding a better alternative to enhance consumer protection.”

Ian Jarratt, Queensland Consumers Association

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