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The consumer movement - 1960 to 1970 

Growth of the consumer movement

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The 1960's witnessed the birth of a grass-roots consumer movement in Australia.  In 1959 the Australian Consumers Association (ACA), publisher of CHOICE magazine was formed. It was established as an independent, non-profit organisation and has since become an informative and powerful consumer lobby group.

Further impetus for change came from both the United States, where a number of influential books had sparked a vigorous debate on the issue of consumer rights and the United Kingdom, where the 1962 Molony Report had examined in great detail consumer requirements and the need for further consumer protection.

Vance Packard's books, The Hidden Persuaders (1957) and The Waste Makers (1960), and in particular Ralph Nader's Unsafe At Any Speed (1964), together with concern over the side effects of the drug Thalidomide spurred on the growth of the consumer movement.

Consumer Bill of Rights

President Kennedy, in a 1962 directive to the US Consumer Advisory Council, set out a list of consumer rights which are now regarded as fundamental.  He stated that consumers have:

1. the right to safety
2. the right to be informed
3. the right to choose, and
4. the right to be heard.

Not long there after, the International Organisation of Consumer Unions (IOCU) later added a further four consumer rights to this list.

5. the right to satisfaction of basic needs
6. the right to redress
7. the right to consumer education
8. the right to a healthy environment

The United Nations’ General Assembly in 1985 embraced these consumer rights.

Consumer developments during this period

Some of the major consumer developments in this era included:

  • 1960 Hire-Purchase Act - covered money obtained from credit providers for goods which were not owned until the entire sum was paid off, it also regulated the form and content of hire-purchase agreements.
  • 1969 NSW Consumer Protection Act – adopted a fresh approach to the problems of safeguarding the interests of the public by establishing the Consumer Affairs Council and the Consumer Affairs Bureau.  The Act also focused on trade descriptions, false and misleading advertisements and the safety of goods available to consumers.

Go to  The material world - 1970 to present.

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