It is with a great sense of loss that CFA acknowledges the passing of Mr John Wood OAM after a long battle with illness. John was a passionate and respected consumer advocate with a long history in both the development of independent consumer protections and those within government agencies, as well as the advancement of product safety as a CFA Standards Representative.
Starting out, John was an architect with a concern for social justice. He later became a public servant at the Department of Urban and Regional Development, working to make cities better for those who were less well-off.
For ten years he worked as the Director of the Federal Bureau of Consumer Affairs (1984–1994). His many achievements included seeing Australia support the adoption of the United Nations Guidelines for Consumer Protection and helping persuade the government to appoint a full-time Trade Practices Commissioner with a consumer movement background.
John played an instrumental role in advancing consumer interests. Reforms he was associated with include the power to order a mandatory recall of hazardous products, inclusion of new consumer protections in the Trade Practices Act in 1986, the establishment of the first banking industry Ombudsman and the development of external dispute resolution in many other industries.
He played a pivotal role in the acceptance of the principle that any Commonwealth body advising on policy or regulation that was relevant to consumers should have consumer representation. John served on a number of Standards Committees, and had a particular interest in dumping and substandard products in the Pacific region.
Over his many years of service as a consumer representative to Standards Australia, John participated on both technical and policy committees on Complaints Handling, Appeals and Escalation Benchmarks, Anti-Bribery, and Consumer Policy. John was also a member of the Australian national mirror committee to ISO’s Consumer Policy Committee (COPOLCO), participating in international delegations and providing expert advice.
John served on the governing Council of CFA member CHOICE, and was made a life member in recognition of his service to CHOICE and to consumers.
In recognition of his significant service to the community as a consumer rights and complaints handling advocate and adviser, John was appointed a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) in 2014.
Consumers in Australia and internationally are much better off for many of the contributions John made.
This article uses contributions from appreciations of John’s life by CHOICE and Standards Australia.