Two weeks ago I wrote to you about the New South Wales Government’s reforms to gift cards, extending the minimum validity period to three years. As I said at the time, the NRA was not supportive of the changes, but we understood the government’s motivation in terms of protecting consumers and helping them to maximise their use of the cards. In the past week I was pleased to participate in a meeting convened by the Department of Finance and chaired by the Minister’s Chief of Staff, to discuss the implementation of the changes.
That meeting included a range of retailers and representatives of the companies that supply the majority of stored value cards across Australia. As a direct result of the consultations, there are likely to be some changes to the implementation, and we thank the Minister and his department for taking the industry’s views on board.
Most specifically, the previous push to start the new rules before Christmas now seems unlikely to occur, due to the strong representations made by the NRA and other retailers. I expect that the scheme will now begin somewhere between March and July next year. The Department has also taken on board industry feedback about the costs associated with dumping existing stocks of cards that have a one-year or two-year expiry date printed on them. I expect there will be measures put in place to ensure retailers can continue using existing cards.
While these reforms are currently limited to New South Wales, they will obviously have ramifications for larger retailers and chains that operate across state borders. I would expect that this New South Wales law will become the de facto national standard, so it’s critically important that we get these decisions right. The NRA is grateful that the New South Wales Government has been so willing to listen to our views, and we will continue to work with them to achieve the best possible outcome for retailers.
Have a great week.
Dominique Lamb, CEO.