This week, Queensland MP Bob Katter claimed the parliamentary cafe was breaking the law by not accepting cash as a payment for his lunch order. Speaker of the House Milton Dick has reportedly vowed to immediately lift any cashless ban by retailers in parliament house.
Regulations covering cash acceptance at retail points of sale are the responsibility of the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) and the Australian Consumer and Competition Commission (ACCC).
The RBA and the ACCC's regulations contradict each other and have clearly led to mass confusion in Australia. Most Australians believe, as Bob Katter does, that cash is legal tender and must be accepted.
Currently the RBA advises merchants that they should offer a non-surcharged payment method or build their surcharges into their base prices:
Banknotes and coins are the traditional non-surcharged payment method. These RBA regulations suggest that a merchant can’t impose a card surcharge unless they offer cash as non-surcharged payment method.
The ACCC advises merchants and consumers differently, saying that merchants don’t need to offer a non-surcharged method of payment:
The ACCC’s regulations are not working to contain the cost of card surcharges. The RBA’s regulations are not working to ensure consumers are offered a surcharge-free way to pay.
"The vast majority of Australians believe that legal tender, as written on our banknotes, means this note can be used to buy goods and services in Australia," said Jason Bryce, spokesperson for the Cash Welcome campaign.
"Most Australians believe, like Bob Katter does, that retailers are actually not following the law in refusing to accept cash.
"This confusion has contributed to the issues affecting the cash industry now.
"The RBA, the ACCC and the Australian parliament needs to clear this mess up and provide some certainty for Australians who trust and rely on cash.
"Our petition calling for mandated cash acceptance now has over 160,000 signatures and is growing every day, without a big marketing budget."
The RBA and the ACCC have conflicting regulations about cash acceptance and card surcharging at retail points of sale.
Cash Welcome is a campaign started by Jason Bryce and supported by donations from the public and business.
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