Companies which deceive consumers could be forced to fork out 10 per cent of their annual turnover in penalties if new laws pass parliament.
Reviews of the Australian Consumer Law have suggested existing maximum fines aren't high enough where the benefit companies receive from unconscionable conduct outweighs the financial risk.
Assistant minister to the treasurer Michael Sukkar said current maximum penalties - $1.1 million for a body corporate or $200,000 for a person - were clearly failing to deter large corporations from breaching consumer laws, particularly where the conduct is profitable.
He pointed to the $10 million penalty handed out to supermarket giant Coles, which has annual revenue over $22 billion, for its unconscionable conduct in dealings with 200 suppliers.
A government proposal would see penalties increased to the greater of $10 million, three times the value of the benefit obtained if it can be determined, or 10 per cent of annual turnover if the benefit can't be determined.
An individual would face penalties up to $500,000.
If passed, the penalties would be applied for unconscionable conduct and unfair practices including misleading and deceptive conduct, as well as offences relating to product safety and information standards.