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
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
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
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
Register your interest in participating by using the
If you would like to join our National Steering Group to guide the development
of Consumer Power, please tick the box below.
0425 722 890