The Ministerial Council on Consumer Affairs (MCCA) was established in 1992 by the Council of Australian Governments (COAG). In carrying out its roles and functions, MCCA was supported by the Standing Committee of Officials on Consumer Affairs (SCOCA), advisory committees of SCOCA and the MCCA Secretariat.
In 2011, COAG agreed to reform its ministerial council system and the MCCA became the Legislative and Governance Forum on Consumer Affairs (CAF). CAF was established to manage ongoing legislative and governance functions that were not covered by the Standing Councils. CAF also had oversight of the significant collective responsibilities for ministers where they are set out in relevant legislation, intergovernmental agreements and treaties that are outside the scope of Standing Councils.
CAF consisted of the Commonwealth, State, Territory and New Zealand Ministers responsible for fair trading and consumer protection laws. CAF considered consumer affairs and fair trading matters of national significance and, where possible, developed a consistent approach to those issues. CAF undertook its functions under the Intergovernmental Agreement for the Australian Consumer Law, the Trans-Tasman Mutual Recognition Act 1997 and the Mutual Recognition Act 1992 or as delegated by COAG.
CAF was supported by Consumer Affairs Australia and New Zealand (CAANZ), which was comprised of senior officials from the Commonwealth, States, Territories and New Zealand. The key role of CAANZ was to carry out projects and activities that promoted a consistent and coordinated national approach in line with the Australian Consumer Law (ACL) and, where relevant, trans-Tasman approaches to the development, implementation, enforcement and education of consumer laws. All Australian consumer protection agencies including the New Zealand Ministry of Consumer Affairs and Commerce Commission worked together to administer and enforce the ACL under a signed Memorandum of Understanding.
In December 2013, COAG agreed to streamline and refocus its priorities resulting in the decision that CAF would operate outside of the auspices of COAG.
On 29 May 2020, the Prime Minister announced that COAG would cease and that a National Federation Reform Council would be formed, with the National Cabinet at its centre.
On 26 June 2020, National Cabinet agreed to a review of the COAG Councils and Ministerial Forums with a view to rationalising and resetting the structure and work programs.
On 23 October 2020, National Cabinet accepted the Review's recommendations that reduced the number of ministerial forums including the disbanding of CAF. Forums in the disbanded category concluded existing work and ceased operating in their current form as at 1 February 2021.
For further information and assistance regarding the enforcement of the ACL, enquiries should be directed to local State and Territory consumer protection agencies or the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission.