NEW legislation to establish a Fire Services Levy Monitor has been introduced into parliament today.
The Monitor is designed to ensure consumer protection under the new fire services property levy.
Consumer Affairs Minister Michael OBrien said a key component of the new consumer protections would be penalties of up to $10 million for a body corporate and $500,000 for an individual, against price exploitation, false representation and misleading and deceptive conduct.
The Monitor will oversee the transition to a new property-based levy and provide advice and guidance to consumers and the insurance industry to make certain that insurers genuinely phase out the existing insurance based levy, he said.
"Establishing the Fire Services Levy Monitor complements an election commitment by the Coalition Government to abolish the unfair fire services levy in line with a recommendation of the Victorian Bushfires Royal Commission,'' Mr OBrien said.
"This law will, for the first time, place legal obligations on insurers regarding how the fire services levy can be passed on to consumers."
Treasurer Kim Wells said the Monitor would be charged with making sure insurance companies did the right thing by consumers.
"The Coalition Government is putting strong mechanisms in place to ensure consumers are protected. This legislation will see serious penalties apply to any company caught engaging in price exploitation," he said.
The Monitor will be an independent body with substantial powers and its own staff.
Its roles will include an ability to prosecute offences and apply for compensation on behalf of consumers who have suffered loss or damage due to breaches of the law.