Federal member for Page Kevin Hogan said tough new laws that will protect Northern Rivers’ consumers from excessive card surcharging. The Government’s Competition and Consumer Amendment (Payment Surcharges) Bill 2015 passed the Senate last week with the ban on excessive card surcharging to take effect this year. “Card and other electronic payments facilitate billions of transactions every year. It is therefore crucial that Northern Rivers’ consumers have confidence in the system,” Mr Hogan said. “Northern Rivers’ consumers are entitled to a fair deal. That’s why the Federal Government took action to ensure customers are charged no more than the amount that reflects the true amount of the merchant’s costs in accepting that payment. “Our laws equip the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) with new powers to enforce the ban, including the ability to gather information from those involved in the payments process and the authority to issue infringement notices against those engaging in excessive surcharging.” Mr Hogan said if the ACCC forms the view that a merchant has engaged in excessive surcharging, they may issue an infringement notice including a penalty for listed corporations of up to 600 penalty units, currently $108,000, for each alleged contravention. The new law is an important step in further implementing the Federal Government’s response to the Financial System Inquiry and providing greater protection for Northern Rivers’ consumers, he said. The ban on excessive surcharging will work in tandem with Reserve Bank of Australia Payments System Board standards that will set the permitted surcharge for payments. Further details are available at: www.rba.gov.au The scheduled commencement for the ban will allow for the RBA consultation process to take place while providing a reasonable period for merchants to prepare for the new arrangements.