29 November 2021

Today’s announcement by the Morrison-Joyce Government on scam SMS messages is welcome but two years too late.

The cost of this inaction to Australian households and small business is $66 billion in the past two years alone.

This tired and lazy Government has ignored warnings from police and regulators and allowed scams to quadruple over that period.

Today’s announcement of a piecemeal regulatory change that finally enables telcos to block scam text messages is a first step to addressing this blight on our economy.

But there’s regrettably still no comprehensive plan to take the fight up to scammers.

The fact is, Scott Morrison has been embarrassed into taking even this small step.

After months of detailed consultations, Labor announced our comprehensive five-point plan weeks ago, including:

  • Establishing a National Anti-Scam Centre, based on the successful British model, bringing together law enforcement, banks, telcos, consumer affairs advocates and regulator to respond to emerging scams in real-time;
  • Introducing tough new mandatory industry codes to make social media companies, banks and telcos responsible for choking off scams;
  • Dramatically increasing funding for victim recovery services so consumers and small business owners can get their lives back on track quicker;
  • Reviewing penalties for fraudulent and deceptive conduct online to increase the consequences for would-be scammers;
  • Tasking a Minister with direct portfolio responsibility for keeping a vigilant eye on scams on behalf of consumers and small businesses.

The Prime Minister who doesn’t hold a hose, didn’t buy enough vaccine and won’t build quarantine facilities is once again playing catchup, this time on scams.

It is clear political embarrassment, not a genuine concern for consumer protection, has galvanised Scott Morrison into action.