Chapter 1 Do Not Knock Register Bill 2012
The Do Not Knock Register Bill 2012 was introduced into the House of
Representatives on Monday, 21 May 2012. The Do Not Knock Register Bill 2012
is a Private Member’s Bill proposed by Mr Steve Georganas MP.
Scope of the Bill
The Do Not Knock Register Bill 2012 sets up a scheme, enabling individuals
to opt out of receiving unsolicited marketing calls to residential and government
addresses. Under the scheme, unsolicited marketing calls are prohibited to
addresses registered on the Do Not Knock Register. The main remedies for
breaches are infringement notices, civil penalties and injunctions.
The Do Not Knock Register Bill 2012 permits ‘designated marketing calls’
from certain organisations and individuals including government bodies,
charities, religious organisations, politicians and political candidates.
On 24 May 2012, the Selection Committee referred the Do Not Knock
Register Bill 2012 to the House of Representatives Social Policy and Legal and
Affairs Committee for inquiry and report.
Reason for referral
The Selection Committee provided ‘the constitutionality of the bill’ as the
reason for referral/principal issue for consideration.
Senate Scrutiny of Bills Committee
The Senate Scrutiny of Bills Committee raised some concerns about the Do
Not Knock Register Bill 2012, including that:
explanatory memorandum is inadequate, and
n the privilege against
self incrimination is abrogated. 
Conduct of the inquiry
The inquiry into the Bill attracted some interest from the community and
from industry. Although the Selection Committee cited only the
constitutionality of the Bill as the reason for referral, it became clear to
the Committee that consideration was required regarding the proposed operation of
the Bill and its capacity to address its policy intent.
Accordingly, the Committee sought submissions from those industry
sectors likely to be most affected by the implementation of the Bill, and from
peak consumer advocacy groups regarding the issue of door to door salespeople.
In addition the Committee received submissions from other community advocacy
groups and from a number of businesses across different sectors. The Committee
received 18 submissions and three supplementary submissions. A list of submissions
is at Appendix A.
The Committee held public hearings on 22 and 23 August 2012 with
consumer advocacy groups, industry peak bodies and Mr Steve Georganas MP. A
list of witnesses is at Appendix B.
The Committee did not attempt to conduct wide ranging consultation on
the Bill. This is not generally considered the task of a Committee advisory
The Committee acknowledges that in this instance the Bill and the
concept of a Do Not Knock Register have not been through a detailed
consultative process. However it is not for the Committee to determine the
policy merits of a bill when preparing an advisory report.
The Committee considers its task in this instance is to advise the
Parliament on the efficacy of the Bill in achieving its objective, of potential
unintended consequences of the Bill, and of the interaction of the proposals
contained in the Bill with existing regulatory frameworks.
A number of issues were raised during the course of the inquiry. The
Committee received evidence regarding the constitutionality of the Bill and
reports on this evidence for the benefit of the Parliament in determining its
consideration of the Bill. The Committee makes comment on the referral of a
bill to consider its constitutionality.
A number of contributors to the inquiry outlined unscrupulous door to
door sales practices and the need for rigorous consumer protections for
vulnerable members of the community. The effectiveness and enforceability of
the Do Not Knock sticker campaign was raised.
Certain consumer protections already exist as part of the Australian
Consumer Law (ACL) framework and the Australian Competition and Consumer
Commission (ACCC). The operation of these protections is considered alongside
the proposals set out in the Bill. In addition, key industry sectors have self regulatory
schemes to oversee door to door sales practices. Some consideration is given to
the effectiveness of these schemes.
Finally, practical implementation issues of the Bill are examined, such
as cost of set-up and administration, consumer take up rates of a Register, and
effectiveness at curbing the practices of rogue salespeople.
Professor George Williams, a constitutional lawyer and academic, noted
that the definition of ‘marketing call’ in section 5 of the Bill was critical
to its interpretation. The operative provisions of the Bill, that is, sections
8 and 9, depend on the definition of this term.
Other matters dealt with by the Bill, such as the creation of a Do Not
Knock Register, the imposition of penalties and the investigation of
complaints, are incidental to the matters covered by sections 8 and 9.
According to Professor Williams, the regulation of marketing calls such
as proposed under the Bill could fall under four sections of the Constitution.
n Section 51(xx) –
foreign corporations, and trading or financial corporations formed within the
limits of the Commonwealth
n Section 51(i) – trade
and commerce with other countries, and among the States
n Section 51(v) –
postal, telegraphic, telephonic, and other like services, and
n Section 122 –making
laws for the government of any territory. 
A Bill may be unconstitutional even if it falls under a constitutional
provision if it otherwise infringes a limit imposed on the Constitution, such
as the implied freedom of political communication. Professor Williams noted
that the Bill has been drafted to avoid infringing this freedom.
In conclusion, Professor Williams stated:
It is clear that the Bill has been drafted so as to fall
under heads of power… My view is that, if passed, the Bill would be a valid
enactment under the Australian Constitution.
Affected industry groups advanced an opposing view. Energy Assured Ltd, a
peak body which aims to monitor and improve door to door marketing standards across
the retail energy industry, told the Committee:
…we do not believe that
sections 51(i) or 51(v) apply … Section 51(xx) is the only head of power on
which the bill could legitimately be based. However, the question of whether
the corporations power can form the basis of a law regulating the actions of
persons acting on behalf of a corporation—for example, a sales agent—or for the
benefit of a corporation, such as an individual, is not clear. 
Industry groups representing the communications and direct sales
industries agreed. The Direct Selling Association of Australia gave an example
of where the corporations power might not cover door to door sales activity:
An Avon lady is typically unincorporated and conducts
business locally. In these circumstances, the proposed register will not apply
to the Avon lady. In other words, consumers will need to do more than register
their addresses if they do not want a visit from the Avon lady. 
The Committee received evidence discussing the constitutionality of the
Bill. The Committee considers it is would be inappropriate for this Committee
to attempt to advise the Parliament on the constitutionality of a Bill.
House of Representatives Practice makes it clear that the interpretation
of the Constitution rests with the High Court, rather than the Parliament. It
Speakers have generally taken the view that, with the
exception of determination of points of procedure between the two Houses, the
obligation to interpret the Constitution does not rest with the Chair and that
the only body fully entitled to do so is the High Court. Not even the House has
the power finally to interpret the terms of the Constitution.
Further, on different occasions the Speaker has stated that it is not
the intention of the Speaker to limit the House by determining what it may or
may not consider, and the House is ‘master of its own destiny’. In relation to
the interpretation of the law, the Chair has ruled:
n A question of law
should be asked of the Attorney-General, not the Speaker;
n It is not the duty of
the Speaker to give a decision on (to interpret) a question of law; and
n A very heavy tax
would be imposed if the Speaker, as soon as any motion or bill were introduced,
were expected to put the whole of the Crown Law Offices into operation in order
to see whether what was proposed to be done was in accordance with the law.
The Committee is of the view that it certainly does not fall to this
Committee to make any ruling on the constitutionality of a bill, or indeed to
proffer any advice on such to the House. Rather, the Committee has reported to
the House a summary of evidence regarding the constitutionality of a bill in
order for the House to inform itself.
However, the Committee wishes to advise the Selection Committee that it
considers such reasons for referral as inappropriate. Should a Member of the
House question the constitutionality of a bill, then that question should be
put to the Attorney-General and it is for the House to determine if it will
consider the Bill, and ultimately for the High Court to determine the validity
of a Bill if passed.
Protections for consumers
Mr Georganas MP, the Member of Parliament proposing the Bill, cited the
reasons behind the Bill as twofold:
n to protect vulnerable
consumers who could be taken advantage of, or even preyed upon, by unscrupulous
n to give consumers the
choice as to whether a salesperson could come knocking at their door.
The two reasons Mr Georganas cited are discussed in the following
sections, with the issue of consumer choice examined in the context of the Do
Not Knock sticker initiative.
The Committee heard substantial evidence about vulnerable consumers,
such as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, migrants and the elderly,
being targeted by certain salespeople.
The Consumer Utilities Advocacy Centre (CUAC) raised concerns about unscrupulous
marketing practices targeting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. As
a result of research conducted in Victoria with Aboriginal consumers, the CUAC
A lower literacy rate means that some Aboriginal people are
unable to interpret written information on offers. Consumers and service
providers also suggested that Aboriginal people are more likely to feel
intimidated in official or bureaucratic interactions and uncomfortable
asserting their rights. Participants also spoke about what was sometimes called
the ‘yeh yeh yeh factor’, the tendency to agree to a proposition put rather
than to disagree or argue.
Similarly, Financial Counselling Australia (FCA) reported in their
submission that the current legislative regime does not adequately protect
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people from unscrupulous door to door
selling. Some of the problems FCA cited include:
n misleading conduct;
n overpriced or shoddy
(particularly where English is not the first language spoken in the home); and
Ms Fiona Guthrie from FCA outlined the ‘systemic’ targeting of Indigenous
consumers in remote communities where ‘shoddy, overpriced products [are] sold
to vulnerable people who cannot afford them’.
Ms Guthrie said that educational materials, such as flashcards and
stickers have been popular resources for financial counsellors working with
Indigenous communities. 
Ms Guthrie explained that similar ‘targeting’ goes on with some migrant
communities where there may be low literacy rates and where migrants may feel
intimidated in bureaucratic or official situations. Ms Guthrie said that this
issue is especially concerning where salespeople may present themselves falsely
as government officials. She gave examples of where ‘Burmese and African
migrants who were illiterate were signed up to expensive phone and internet
Ms Guthrie suggested that the problem is so serious that some people
even hide when their door is knocked.
Similarly, Mr Georganas MP reported that in his electorate of Hindmarsh
Many of our newly-arrived migrants, when they see someone
turn up at their door with a folder and looking very official, will sit there
and participate in the discussion and, when someone says, “This will be much
cheaper for you and it will not cost you anything, just sign here,” we have
seen many constituents do so. 
The Committee heard that elderly people are at risk from being targeted
by unscrupulous salespeople. Mr Georganas MP was particularly concerned for
elderly people with dementia and described how the elderly may be more likely to
enter into unwanted agreements at the door. He explained how high
pressure sales tactics may be confronting for elderly people, and those on
limited incomes may be more susceptible to claims of special deals or promises
of cheaper energy bills.
National Seniors Australia, Australia’s ‘largest organisation
representing the interests of those aged 50 and over’
said that the elderly are particularly vulnerable to high pressure sales
National Seniors Australia voiced support for the Bill, and said that ‘implementation
of a “Do Not Knock Register” will give elderly Australians the opportunity to
opt out of door-to-door sales and will empower those who are most vulnerable’. 
By contrast, the Consumer Action Law Centre (CALC) was of the view that
the online registration mechanism proposed by the Bill would not fully improve
the protections available to vulnerable consumers. CALC said that:
We are particularly concerned about marginalised groups such
as those from non-English speaking backgrounds, Indigenous consumers, the
elderly and those living with a disability. The experience of consumer and
welfare agencies is that these groups are particularly vulnerable to door-to-door
marketing. Community education should be well funded and focus on these groups,
including outreach to facilitate addresses to be registered, so that online
registration is not the sole way in which an address can be registered.
Consumer choice: the Do Not Knock
The second reason Mr Georganas MP cited for introducing the Bill was to
give consumers the choice as to whether a salesperson could come knocking at
their door. 
The Committee received substantial evidence referring to mechanisms that
are already in place to give consumers that choice, particularly the Do Not
Knock sticker initiative. 
Together, the CALC and FCA launched a Do Not Knock sticker in 2007,
relaunching the initiative in 2011. Figure 1 is a copy of
the image used in the sticker initiative.
Figure 1 Do Not Knock sticker produced by Consumer Action Law
Centre and Financial Counselling Australia
The sticker is available at 86 community locations across Australia and
free of charge on a website. State governments in
Queensland, South Australia and Tasmania, Members of Parliament, energy
providers and local councils distribute similar stickers.
CALC described the campaign as being ‘enormously popular’, with almost 200 000
stickers being distributed from August 2011 to August 2012.
The legal authority behind the sticker could rely on the law of
trespass, which involves the deliberate or careless interference with someone
else’s land. There is an implied licence that allows salespeople to enter public
parts of private property, such as a driveway or path, but a ‘keep out sign’
can void this licence. Hence, ignoring a Do Not Knock sticker could amount to
unlawful trespass.  Ignoring a Do Not Knock
sticker could also amount to a breach of the ACL provisions. This concept is
currently being tested in court by the ACCC.
As part of the ACCC’s campaign to improve consumer awareness and the
protections provided to consumers from door to door sales, the ACCC has
developed its own version of the Do Not Knock sticker.
However, the number of stickers distributed is small compared to the
number of total households in Australia, and greater promotion of the sticker
may be necessary to fully realise its effectiveness. There is a clear demand
for the sticker, as evidenced by the increased requests for stickers following
the launch of the ACCC’s campaign. Many consumers may prefer to use the sticker
than go to the trouble of registering on a Government database.
Affected industry groups voiced consistent support for the Do Not Knock
sticker campaign. Salmat, a field sales
business and a member of Energy Assured Limited, supports the initiative,
because they ‘do not want to sell to a customer who does not want to be sold
to’. Alinta Energy described
the sticker as ‘simple, low cost, efficient and easily accessible… effective’.
Alinta Energy suggested that standardising the stickers in size and colour
would make compliance easier for marketers, concluding that ‘any need for a
Register should be predicated on the evidentiary failure of the Do Not Knock
stickers’. As industry groups
preferred the sticker over more stringent forms of regulation, they assured the
Committee of their compliance with the stickers. 
On the other hand, CALC claims that some salespeople ignore the
stickers, and hence, the Do Not Knock Register is preferable because
significant penalties apply for non‑compliance.
The Queensland Consumers Association questioned the usefulness of the
stickers and said that:
…stickers are unlikely
to be as effective as a register for most consumers. For example, apart from
the fact that stickers may be ignored or even removed by door knockers, due to
physical deterioration stickers need to be replaced after some time, and some
consumers do not wish to place them on doors, windows etc.
The Queensland Consumers Association supported the Bill, noting the
success of the Do Not Call Register. 
Similarly, Mr Georganas MP spoke of the need to enshrine the Do Not
Knock consumer rights in law:
… [the Do Not Knock Register] would be no different from the
Do Not Call Register. We know it works. We know it would be legal and we know
there would be penalties and fines. It is quite clear, black and white, what
the law is and what the requirements of salespeople are. There are some grey
areas with the stickers …[the Do Not Knock Register] can work hand in hand
with the stickers as well. 
Current legislative provisions and
industry self regulation
In assessing whether additional protections needed to be provided for
consumers and whether the Bill may achieve this goal, the Committee gave
consideration to existing consumer protections. In particular, the Committee considered
the ACL, which was recently introduced, and the investigative powers of the
ACCC. The Committee took evidence on self regulatory schemes operating in some
Australian Consumer Law protections
Introduced on 1 January 2011, the ACL is a single, national law
concerning consumer protection and fair trading.
For the first time, consumers have the same protections and expectations about
business conduct wherever they are in Australia. Similarly, businesses have the
same obligations and responsibilities wherever they operate in Australia.
One of the key changes introduced through the ACL is a new national
regime for unsolicited sales practices and unsolicited consumer agreements,
which will replace existing state and territory laws on door to door sales and
other direct marketing. It covers forms of direct selling which do not take place
in a retail context, including door to door selling. The rules include:
n supplier obligations
about the way in which consumers are approached and about the making of
n supplier disclosure
obligations about the making of agreements, consumer rights and obligations,
n supplier obligations
about post-contractual behaviour.
In summary, the protections provided are as follows:
Under the ACL consumers have extra protections when they buy
certain goods and services from door-to-door sales agents. These consumer
rights apply when the sale of goods or services results from an ‘unsolicited
consumer agreement’. Broadly, this is an agreement that results from uninvited
contact with a consumer; that is negotiated by telephone or at a location that
is not the supplier’s business location; and where the price exceeds $100 (or
the price is not established when the agreement is made).
Door-to-door sales agents who make uninvited contact with
consumers in order to sell them goods or services must comply with limited
hours for contact with consumers; disclosure requirements when making an
agreement; and specific criteria for the sales agreement (for example, it must
be in writing). Consumers have 10 business days to change their mind and cancel
the contract (‘cool off’) and sales agents must also comply with restrictions
on supply and requesting payment during the cooling-off period. Consumers can
also cancel the contract within three or six months if the supplier has not met
certain obligations under the ACL.
Importantly, door to door salespeople must give details such as the
purpose of their visit, their name and the name of the company that they work
for. Further, if a salesperson is requested to leave they must do so
immediately and sales calls can only be made between 9 am and 6 pm on
weekdays and between 9 am and 5 pm on Saturday.
In addition to the unsolicited selling provisions, the unconscionable
conduct provisions under the ACL prevent businesses from engaging in behaviour
which may take advantage of another’s special disadvantage or vulnerability. A
third layer of protection is provided by statutory warranties requiring goods
and services to be of acceptable quality and fit for purpose.
Contraventions can attract a range of penalties including injunctions,
damages, compensatory orders and non-punitive orders.
Administration and enforcement of the ACL is primarily through by the ACCC, and
by state and territory consumer agencies.
The primary responsibility of the ACCC is to ensure that individuals and
businesses comply with the Commonwealth’s competition, fair trading and
consumer protection laws. As well as education and information activities, the
ACCC recommends dispute resolution when possible as an alternative to
litigation, and will take legal action when necessary.
In August 2012, the ACCC launched a campaign to improve consumer
awareness of rights relating to door to door sales. Several consumer
information publications were released, themed Knock! Knock! Who’s There?,
with brochures available in 14 languages, a postcard and fridge magnet, and its
own version of the Do Not Knock sticker. The ACCC received 7 000 requests for
Do Not Knock stickers and consumer guides following the launch.
In regards to door to door selling practices, the ACCC has wide ranging
powers to investigate unscrupulous sales tactics and can compel people and
businesses to give information, obtain search warrants, issue public warning
and infringement notices, accept court enforceable undertakings, conduct
litigation or refer criminal matters to the Commonwealth Director of Public
In August 2012, the ACCC released a commissioned report into the door to
door sales industry in Australia. The findings of the report include:
n The scale and scope
of the door to door sales industry in Australia – In 2011 over 1.3 million
sales were conducted through this sales channel and of these, approximately 1
million sales related to energy services. On average every home in Australia is
door knocked eight times a year.
n Industry structure–
companies usually engage third party sales agents to deliver door to door sales
services, with remuneration typically based on commission. This model may
encourage agents to adopt tactics that are not fully compliant in order to
secure more sales.
n Non-compliance – some
research participants reported preying on vulnerable ‘easy targets’, using
false pretexts to hook consumers in such as pretending to have lost their dog,
or failing to provide consumers with certain information as required by under
the Australian Consumer Law.
The report indicates that there is a high level of non-compliance which
the ACCC is addressing through the release of consumer information material and
a focus on enforcement actions.
The ACCC has recently initiated a number of enforcement actions in
regards to door to door sales, alleging unconscionable and misleading conduct
and false or misleading representations. The ACCC advised that
this litigation will test the scope and precise application of the ACL as it
relates to door to door selling, and commented that:
It is too early to say whether or not the ACL unsolicited
selling provisions will be interpreted by the Courts in a manner which will
ensure the law provides adequate protection for consumers in this area.
Industry groups expressed support for the measures introduced by the
ACL, even though these have placed a number of restrictions on door to door
sales practices. Communications Alliance claimed that the Bill would duplicate
the ACL protections and concluded that ‘there is no evidence to suggest that
more specific legislation is necessary at this stage, nor likely to be
Energy, communications and direct sales industry representatives all insisted
on the sufficiency of the ACL and described the Bill unanimously as
They objected to the Bill, considering it premature, given that the ACL was
only recently introduced and that some consumer education campaigns are only
just gaining momentum.
As an alternative to the Bill, industry groups suggested a range of more
effective measures such as increasing consumer education and awareness around
the ACL provisions, and a future review of the ACL.
The Australian Treasury described the existing consumer protections
provided by the ACL as ‘rigorous’, ‘balanced’ and ‘adequate’
and consequently it did not support the measures proposed by the Bill. The
Australian Treasury noted that the ACL will be reviewed in 2015, and should the
review find inadequacies or failings in the scope of consumer protections,
particularly in regard to door to door sales, then these should identified and
addressed at that time.
By contrast, the Committee received evidence from consumer groups who believed
that existing provisions do not fully protect consumers from unscrupulous
salespeople, or those who choose not to be approached by door to door sellers.
For example, the Queensland Consumers Association suggested that people
may not complain and marketers may refuse to admit wrong until a regulator or
ombudsman is involved. CUAC commented that the
use of unscrupulous tactics in door to door marketing may be difficult to prove
because no witnesses are present.
CALC was concerned that, under the ACL, ‘consumers can fail to exercise
their cooling-off rights, despite regretting a purchasing decision’.
Mr Georganas MP agreed, emphasising that vulnerable consumers were not
adequately protected by cooling off period rights:
When you are a little bit vulnerable you could make the wrong
choice at the door and then have to go through the entire process of the
courts, of writing letters to managers, of proving you are not in the right
frame of mind to make that decision at that point in time. Many of these people
do not have the capacity to do that. 
As previously mentioned, FCA were of the view that current provisions
did not adequately protect Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander consumers from
CHOICE supports the submissions made by CALC and FCA to the Committee,
and said that ‘a well-structured Do Not Knock register may operate as a simple
and effective way for consumers to protect themselves from door-to-door
While advocating for the Bill to be passed, CUAC took a measured
approach to existing provisions, and said that ‘only time will tell if these
initiatives result in an improvement in sales behaviour at the door and a lower
level of consumer dissatisfaction with this form of activity’.
Industry regulatory schemes
In addition to the ACL, various industry bodies have self regulatory
schemes in place which set out the codes of practice for door to door
salespeople operating within that industry sector. Energy retailers have a code
of practice and will be subject to National Energy Retail Law, which is part of
an energy customer framework that involves the transfer of current state and territory
responsibilities to a single set of national energy laws, regulations and
The national implementation process is ongoing, and provides additional
consumer protections relating to energy marketing, including door to door
sales. Under the national approach, energy retailers must observe no canvassing
signs, such as Do Not Knock stickers, and must maintain a ‘no contact list’ of
consumers who do not wish to be contacted for marketing purposes. A range of
remedies and penalties are provided for.
In January 2011, the energy industry sector has implemented a self regulatory
Code of Practice relating to door to door sales.
Simply Energy explained that the introduction of the Code was in recognition
that across the sector the customer experience with door to door marketing ‘has
not always been ideal’.
The Code of Practice imposes requirements on the registration, accreditation,
recruitment, training, assessment and monitoring of sales agents. Agents must
undergo ACL training and pass a test on the Energy Assured Limited Code of
Practice. Agents who are found to
have ignored Do Not Knock stickers are deregistered, and not permitted to sell
energy for five years. This penalty was described by the marketing and
communications company Salmat as a ‘powerful deterrent’.
Six agents have been deregistered to date.
Communications Alliance, the peak body for the
telecommunications industry in Australia, considers self regulation to be
‘efficient and practicable’.
Similarly, the direct marketing or direct selling industry has a Code of
Practice which requires members to ‘respect any consumer request not to be
contacted regarding the possible supply of a product. A request could take any
form and would include, for instance, a Do Not Knock sticker.’
The industry peak body, Direct Selling Association of Australia (DSAA),
described how their members ‘go out of their way to train and educate’
distributors although it was conceded that door to door sales often has a
transient workforce which makes ongoing training difficult. 
However, CALC claimed that such training was ineffective, citing the ACCC’s
commissioned report that ‘from a sample of 15 agents that were also
interviewed, only two could recount the details of the ACL with any
Costs, practical difficulties and
The concept of a Do Not Knock Register is based on the existing Do Not
Call Register, which was implemented in 2006. Mr Georganas MP’s
intention is for it to be added to the existing register, ‘where the
infrastructure and the structure is already up and running’.
The Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC) expressed
support for the creation of a Do Not Knock Register and discussed how such a
Register would operate under current and proposed amendments to Australia’s
The OAIC noted that
A Do Not Knock Register is likely to include registrations
from a significant proportion of Australians, including individuals who choose
not to list their address in public directories. The Register is therefore
likely to be substantial and hold information that some individuals see as
It will therefore be important for the Registrar to handle
personal information in the Register in accordance with Privacy Act
The application of current privacy laws to marketing calls is limited,
however the OAIC noted that the first stage of reforms to the Privacy Act
1988 (Cth) are currently under consideration by the Parliament.
The first stage of the planned reforms would see the introduction of Australian
Privacy Principles (APPs). The proposed APP 7 prohibits direct marketing unless
certain conditions are met relating to ‘the type of information involved and
how the entity obtained that information, … [and] issues of consent, an
individual’s likely expectation, and opt-out mechanisms’.
In addition, the OAIC raises issues concerning the security of a
Register which would be strengthened by ‘mandatory data breach notification’. The
OAIC notes that there is ‘no current mandatory requirement to report data
breaches; however, the Australian Government will consider whether such an
obligation should be created’ in the second stage of privacy laws reforms yet
to be introduced to the Parliament.
The Australian Privacy Foundation (APF) suggested that the Australian Communications
Media Authority, who administers the Do Not Call Register, could administer a
Do Not Knock Register. However, the Do Not
Knock Register is not directly analogous to the Do Not Call Register, and a
seamless integration may not be possible.
Industry groups protested the lack of consultation. 
In particular, they noted that the Bill has not undergone assessment under the
principles of Council of Australian Governments’ Principles of Best Practice
Contrary to the Bill’s Explanatory Memorandum, the Register would
require funding to set up and administer. The Australian Treasury noted that
the Do Not Call Register cost $33.1 million to establish and expected that a Do
Not Knock Register would have a similar budgetary impact.
Indeed, the Direct Selling Association of Australia protested the
‘extraordinary’ financial cost to implement the Register.
The Do Not Knock Register would impose compliance costs. Businesses
would need to monitor the Do Not Knock Register and check the Do Not Knock Register,
as well as implementing training to ensure compliance with both the Do Not
Knock Register and the ACL. Energy Assured Limited explained
that ‘energy retailers would need to wash several million households against
the register every month’. Salmat argued that these
additional compliance burdens would be ‘unrealistic and unworkable … businesses
may not have the resources or funding available to check the register.’
Communications Alliance estimated the compliance cost to the telecommunications
industry would be ‘in the multimillions’.
The Committee heard that the Do Not Knock Register would decrease
competition in the energy industry, as energy companies would face additional
barriers to consumer marketing.
The Committee received evidence that, if implemented, the Do Not Knock
Register may encounter problems with its operation. People move house, creating
the administrative requirement to deregister old occupants and reregister new ones.
In contrast, for the existing Do Not Call Register ‘a phone number … can move
with the resident, keeping the register reasonably up to date.’
Many details relating to the Register would need to be expanded. The
Bill does not include details pertaining to everyday operation, for example,
timeframes for the provision of information to industry and costs of access,
although these could be provided for in delegated legislation.
The Do Not Knock Register may be more difficult to administer than the
Do Not Call Register. As Alinta Energy pointed out, the data set for addresses
is larger than that of telephone numbers. Consequently, addresses have larger
margins of error during inputting than telephone numbers.
The Australian Treasury suggested that community alarm over the issue
was disproportionate to the small percentage of complaints received by the
CALC challenged the isolated prevalence of unscrupulous door to door
sales practices, stating that ‘there appears to be much commonality in conduct …that
By contrast, the Committee received evidence that door to door
salespeople are, on the whole, law abiding, and that ‘rogue’ salespeople were
in the minority. Mr Holloway from the
DSAA told the Committee that:
…the ACCC’s own report provides that the problem is miniscule…the
total number of sales or contacts that they estimate in the report at 1.3
million, they have identified roughly 895 complaints…Even if you triple,
quadruple, ten times that number in terms of people who may be vulnerable and
who may be affected, we are talking very small numbers. 
Mr Hoenig from the DSAA made the point that, regardless of their
prevalence, the Do Not Knock Register is unlikely to be effective in deterring
such ‘rogue’ salespeople anyway. Mr Hoenig said that:
If you are a scam artist and you are looking to target
vulnerable consumers, you are hardly likely to be checking a government
register to check whether someone is on there or not.
The Committee notes the work of the ACCC in making unscrupulous door to
door selling an enforcement priority, and commends the ACCC for developing a
range of educational materials, including those targeted at vulnerable
The Committee commends the work of consumer advocacy groups in
developing and promoting the Do Not Knock sticker, and particularly the
education and counselling work that FCA conducts in Indigenous communities. The
Committee encourages the continued and expanded promotion of the sticker,
especially to vulnerable consumers. It looks forward to the outcome of the
current court case concerning the Do Not Knock sticker.
The Committee notes the importance of door to door salespeople who are
informed about the ACL and responsible in executing their obligations under the
law. Recognising that industry bodies are already implementing and monitoring
self regulation, it encourages the continuation of efforts to eradicate
unscrupulous door to door sales practices.
The Committee expresses deep sympathy for the predicament of vulnerable
consumers who are confronted with unscrupulous door to door selling practices.
However, having examined the evidence and the options presented, the Committee
considers that enforcement, educating consumers about their ACL rights and
continued promotion of the Do Not Knock sticker are the best options at this
time to address the problem.
The Committee notes the evidence it received about the implementation of
the Bill, and that several issues require further development and clarification
prior to considering the establishment of a Do Not Knock register. The
Committee notes that the privacy issues which would surround the compilation
and maintenance of a Register, and that Australia’s privacy laws are undergoing
This Committee is providing an advisory report to the Parliament on the
Privacy Amendment (Enhancing Privacy Protection) Bill 2012 and draws the
attention of the House to the comments it makes on APP 7 and the commencement
process of the reforms.
Noting reforms being considered regarding privacy laws, the recent
implementation of the ACL, and that the adequacy of the regime is yet to be
determined, the Committee concludes that further regulation at this stage is
premature. Further regulation would only be merited if efforts to educate
consumers about the ACL prove ineffective, and if courts decide that the Do Not
Knock sticker does not amount to a request to leave.
If these two outcomes were to pass, the Committee considers that the
review of the ACL in 2015 would be an appropriate forum to consider further
||The Committee recommends that the House of Representatives
not pass the Do Not Knock Register Bill 2012 at this time.