Consumers across the region have been, and are still being, failed badly during COVID-19; with the Andrews Labor Government refusing to provide an adequate avenue for people to have their complaints handled, according to the Member for Murray Plains, Peter Walsh.
He said the Consumer Affairs Victoria (CAV) website is now the only option for consumers to have their complaints registered, and to be given advice on their responsibilities and rights in the consumer marketplace.
According to the website, Consumer Affairs Victoria provides advice and assists on topics including rentals and accommodation, estate agents and their responsibilities, building and construction issues, shopping and trading.
“The arrogance of the Andrews Labor Government can be seen in the wording on the CAV website,” Mr Walsh said.
“It reads: ‘We currently have limited services available. We will assess and respond to urgent matters as quickly as possible. Urgent residential tenancy and small business matters are priorities. If we consider your matter is not urgent, you will not receive a response.’
“Since March 16, more than three months ago, the phone lines at CAV have been inoperative even though the phone number is still listed and has been listed as a reduced service,” he added.
“The Andrews Labor Government can’t continue to put the public on-hold.
“There are issues with warranty cut-off dates, refunds for products and services, as well as other time-sensitive consumer issues on which people are entitled to receive advice.
“My electorate office has also been approached by people with tenancy issues because they cannot get help where it should be available.
“To be told by the Government it will decide on what is considered ‘not urgent’ and subsequently you will not ‘receive a response’ is showing disrespect and treating Victorian consumers with disdain.”
CAV was the responsibility of former Minister Marlene Kairouz until she resigned over Labor’s branch stacking scandal last month.
Mr Walsh said the new Minister, Melissa Horne, needs “to urgently sort this mess out”.
“Not every Victorian has access to the website, and online problem management – as well as being anonymous and incapable of lateral thinking – continues to challenge many of our older citizens; who all too often in matters of tenancy and more complex legal issues, are amongst our most vulnerable community members.
“Additionally, if telephones are not being answered and emails are not being responded to, then a lot of
people are being unfairly disadvantaged.”