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Recalls triple under "shamefully weak" safety laws: CHOICE

Laws needed to stem the flow of unsafe products.

CHOICE has slammed Australia's product safety laws as "shamefully weak" and called on the Federal Government to stem the flow of unsafe products reaching Australian homes.

In a submission to Treasury, the consumer advocate has labelled Australia's safety laws as "reactive", "not fit for the future" and presenting an "unacceptable" level of consumer harm. CHOICE says Australia needs new, proactive safety laws to prevent unsafe products from reaching homes in the first place.

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An analysis of recall data presented in the submission to Treasury shows product recalls tripling in Australia since 1998.

"Australia's product safety laws are shamefully weak," says CHOICE product safety campaigner Amy Pereira. 

"Australia has been let down by successive governments over the last two decades who have allowed unsafe products to flood into our homes. Product recalls have tripled since 1998 - that's millions of unsafe products that should have been stopped before they got to shelves, now in people's homes."

"Businesses selling products in Australia have no general obligation to make sure the products they sell are safe . We need new laws that require basic and sensible safety checks for products before they make it into our homes."

"Weak product safety laws harm people. Each year, there are around 780 deaths and around 52,000 injuries caused by unsafe products. Without stronger product safety laws, these unnecessary deaths and injuries will continue." 

(ACCC 2019, Unsafe goods should be illegal to sell, Release 32/19, https://www.accc.gov.au/media-release/unsafe-goods-should-be-illegal-to-sell)

A CHOICE survey has also found 93% of Australians mistakenly believe existing laws protect them against unsafe products, creating a dangerous situation where people assume more has been done to check the safety of products before they're available in shops or online.

"Australians are in the dark when it comes to product safety," says Pereira.

"Unfortunately our trust is misplaced, and as product recalls continue to skyrocket in Australia, the community is unaware of how little manufacturers have to do before putting products on shelves."

The Federal Government will consider the recommendations arising out of Treasury's consultation.

"Assistant Treasurer Michael Sukkar has the opportunity to make Australians safer with a General Safety Provision. We need new legal protections to make companies check to see if products are safe before they go on sale. Stronger safety laws work around the world; it's time for Australia to catch up."

Media contact: 0430 172 669 or media@choice.com.au

The full submission and extra visual content available for media use on Dropbox: https://showcase.dropbox.com/doc/Recalls-triple-under-shamefully-weak-safety-laws--ApbSDzQkd_tAgYJrtvYbOPz6AQ-UWf3Eyk5ICWAciCL7HAnX