Consumer Power

Unlike most Western countries, Australia lacks a well-established consumer movement that takes a prominent place in national affairs. There are consumer action groups in a number of industry areas; users of services groups in some social policy fields; and there is a national product review magazine called CHOICE.

But these groups do not constitute a consumer movement that shapes national policy and speaks with the same status as producer groups in industry, provider groups in social policy, or employee organisations in the workforce.

This project aims to develop a genuine consumers movement in Australia across a wide range of economic and social sectors.

Tools for enhancing the market power of consumers are relatively undeveloped in Australia compared to other western countries. Consumer cooperative movements were quite strong until the 1920s, then declined as political movements concentrated on producers and providers. Associations of 'housewives' with a major consumer focus were quite significant until the 1960s, before the movement of women into the paid workforce. Consumer brokers in home mortgages, insurances, energy, disability and aged care have emerged in the last 20 years, usually from the private sector rather than from consumers themselves.

Innovations that enhance consumer information and choice have arisen more recently. Product selection and price comparison technologies have become available, from both the private sector (health insurance, cars) and government (My School, My Hospital). Technology-based innovations that cut out the middle man (e-Bay, online retailing) have emerged strongly, usually from the private sector rather than consumers directly.

Consumer advocacy groups in Australia have tended to be the creation of industry or government bodies (energy, telecommunications, food quality and pricing, health care, aged care) rather than consumers themselves.

In all these developments, consumers have been the object of various initiatives, but not the subjects. It has been a passive welfare model, instead of an empowerment model.

Consumer Power brings together consumers to develop the public voice and market power of Australian consumers. It will explore strategies for the aggregation of consumer market power in various economic and social sectors, with an initial focus on electricity, gas and water.

Register your interest in participating by using the form below.

If you would like to join our National Steering Group to guide the development of Consumer Power, please tick the box below.

Further information:

Vern Hughes
0425 722 890


Registration of Interest Form



Phone  (bh)     Phone (ah) 



  I am interested in participating in Consumer Power.

  I am interested in joining the National Steering Group.

Tick the boxes for the areas you are interested in:

                            Electricity and gas
  Internet services
  Aged care

  I have experience in demand aggregation and group purchasing.
Please tell us about it:

  I am part of a membership-based demand aggregation and group
purchasing arrangement. Please tell us about it:

Tell us about yourself and your interests

  Civil Society Australia 2015