by Tim O’Dwyer M.A., LL.B
When consumer advocate Neil Jenman sent me a clipping of The Courier-Mail’s report on the 2007 winner of the Office of Fair Trading’s TradeSmart Award, he added a frank warning. “Make sure you have a bucket ready,” he said, “because this’ll make you want to spew.”
I was more dismayed than sickened to read how Fair Trading Minister Margaret Keech (in one of her most outrageous acts before loosing the Fair Trading portfolio) had announced the Real Estate Institute of Queensland had received one of her department’s Consumer Protection Awards. These awards, said the Minister, recognised some of the state’s most innovative programs aimed at “promoting the rights of Queensland consumers”.
According to Fair Trading, the TradeSmart Award is intended to recognise achievement by a business, company or association in “promoting consumer protection”.
Why on earth would the REIQ be achieving anything other than its commendable promotion of agents’ services and protection of agents’ rights? No wonder Jenman’s bucket warning. Talk about foxes being rewarded for chicken protection!
The REIQ says it “exists” to support member agents with information, products and resources to complement their business practices. Fair enough, but I wonder about the REIQ’s assertion that this ensures “professional service for the public”. Yet the REIQ says it also “supports the community”. How? By providing relevant industry information about buying and selling property.
Well, you can fool some of the people all the time, all of the people some of the time and, it seems, the Office of Fair Trading every time.