CHOICE believes the inclusion of a General Safety Provision (GSP) is essential to Australia's product safety regime. Several CHOICE tests of consumer goods have demonstrated inadequate safety performance.
CHOICE has been testing consumer products for nearly 50 years. One of our key concerns is the safety of those products. In the past we have successfully lobbied for changes to the law to improve product safety and to improve the ability of consumers to seek compensation when they are injured.
But the rate of injury is still too high.
Consumers generally trust that the products they buy have been designed for safety and adequately tested so that they will not present unexpected safety hazards to themselves or their families. However, there remain weaknesses in the Australian product safety system.
Download the CHOICE research report: Product Safety - It's no accident
There are deaths and injuries every year, but the system for monitoring the level of harm is not adequate. There are not enough standards in force. And overlapping state and federal government jurisdictions result in poor enforcement of existing product safety laws.
What we want
We want a new, Commonwealth agency to oversee all product safety issues, an agency with independent power to enforce the product safety law, collect and analyse data, act as an early warning system for removing imminently hazardous products from the market, guide business in conducting recalls and inform the public of product hazards.
CHOICE also wants to see a General Safety Provision. A general safety provision would impose a positive safety duty on all producers of products that are sold to consumers. Australia’s current product safety regime doesn’t impose that pre-market responsibility on producers.
What we’re doing
A strong product safety regime has always been a top priority for CHOICE. We want to ensure that the regulatory system encourages producers to market safe products. When products prove dangerous or defective, there should be an effective recall system for getting them out of the marketplace.
CHOICE regularly identifies dangerous products and calls for an effective response - for example a mandatory standard.
In 2006 the Commonwealth Productivity Commission released a review of the Australian consumer product safety system. CHOICE contributed two submissions to this review and broadly welcomes most findings. We particularly support the strong emphasis on a national approach to product safety.
However, the review failed to support several major reforms needed to make products safe for consumers.
The failure of the Productivity Commission to support a General Safety Provision leaves Australia behind the UK and Europe when it comes to consumer product safety regulation.
CHOICE is also disappointed at the Commission's failure to recommend mandatory recalls for unsafe goods. If a supplier knows a product is unsafe, they should be legally required to recall it.
CHOICE has published a report titled Product Safety - It's No Accident. The report sets out six actions which we believe are necessary to combat injuries caused by unsafe products.
The Commonwealth and State and Territory governments this year are due to discuss the future of Australia's product safety system. We will be making sure our call to action is heard, so the system provides consumers with effective protection from unsafe products.
What you can do
Let us know if you are concerned about an unsafe product by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
Make a complaint to your state Fair Trading agency. For contact details click here.
If you or a member of your family has been seriously injured seek legal advice.
Opinion piece Hodge-podge safety laws put children in danger, published in the Sydney Morning Herald, August 2007.
Submission in response to the Productivity Commission Review of the Australian Consumer Product Safety System, November 2005
Submission to the Productivity Commission, July 2005
Submission to the Ministerial Council of Consumer Affairs Review of the Australian Consumer Product Safety System, November 2004
Former CHOICE CEO Peter Kell’s speech to CHOICE media breakfast, November 2004
Download CHOICE's research report Product Safety - It's no accident