Consumer Champion Calls it a Day

One of New South Wales’ most respected and longest-serving public servants, Fair Trading Commissioner Rod Stowe, has announced his retirement.

Mr Stowe will retire in July after more than 40 years’ continuous service to the NSW public, including almost three decades in the consumer affairs portfolio, under 18 different Ministers, and six years as Commissioner.

Mr Stowe’s work was praised by NSW Minister for Better Regulation, Matt Kean. ‘Mr Stowe has become synonymous with consumer protection and is held in the highest regard nationwide as one of Australia’s most outstanding consumer affairs advocates’, Mr Kean said.

Rod’s contribution to consumers has been acknowledged by consumer advocates.

According to Matt Levey, Director of Content, Campaigns and Communications at CHOICE, Mr Stowe has been a ‘tireless champion for consumer rights, leading NSW Fair Trading to take up the fight against shonky businesses for almost 30 years.’

‘CHOICE has worked with Rod and his department on some of the biggest consumer issues, including bringing an end to unfair credit card surcharges, elevating the issue of fake free range eggs to a national debate, and establishing Australia’s first trial of ‘super complaint’ powers. His legacy of standing up for consumer rights will continue, with NSW the first jurisdiction to launch an online register of consumer complaints, paving the way for other regulators to put the power of this information back in the hands of consumers.’

CFA Deputy Chair Gordon Renouf worked with Mr Stowe over many years, initially as head of Policy and Campaigns at CHOICE. ‘Rod was a pleasure to work with. He was always open to hearing and understanding the point of view of those advocating in consumers’ interests. He earned the trust and respect of consumer advocates’, said Mr Renouf.

Mr Stowe started his career as a public servant straight out of high school in 1977. He worked in pollution control, education, superannuation and local government before moving to the consumer affairs portfolio in 1989.

His legacies include the successful implementation of the consumer protection strategy for the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games, the development of the Australian Consumer Law, and the introduction of the NSW Complaints Register.

Mr Stowe was awarded the Society of Consumer Affairs Professionals (SOCAP) Life Time Achievement Award in 2015 and the Public Service Medal in the 2011 Queen’s Birthday Honours List.

In February this year, the NSW Parliament formally congratulated Mr Stowe on reaching the career milestone of 40 years as a NSW public servant.