David Murray’s Financial Systems Inquiry is digging into surcharging regulations. For too long airlines, hotels and ticketing agencies have had it too good, able to impose punitive surcharges to pump up profits.

However since the report was tabled the minister responsible for consumer affairs, Bruce Billson, has wondered about the effectiveness of the rulings without ‘enforceability’.

The arrangements set out in the FSI aim to curtail the outright profiteering through surcharges – some as high as 8.5 per cent.But no one is going to do this simply because they are told to.

The FSI hinted “creating new penalties to discourage over-surcharging.” But Mr Billson believes there needs to be more than fines imposed.

“there is clear evidence of some gaming going on in the current arrangements,” said Mr Billson. “It’s bleeding obvious who’s doing the wrong thing Its not across the entire economy. It’s a handful of … recalcitrant.”

Mr Billson’s comments were received with joy from consumer groups. Erin Turner from Choice said, “Great to hear that Bruce Billson still intends to pursue enforcement. For us, it’s essential.”

Mr Billson asked David Murray to explore the idea of an extension to the laws governing the profiteering on mortgage exit fees. However, the idea was dismissed in a single paragraph.

To his credit, however, Mr Billson is not taking no for an answer an seeking alternative solutions that “bring the miscreants to account.”

“If it (extension to mortgage exit fee laws) is not the answer, what should it be? I’m very open to people’s ideas.”

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