Consumer group calls for stronger product safety laws

Consumer group Choice has slammed Australia’s product safety laws calling them “shamefully weak” and has urged the Federal Government to monitor how unsafe products are reaching Australian homes.

Choice filed a complaint to the Treasury in which it described the country’s safety laws as “reactive”, “not fit for the future” and “unacceptable”.

The consumer advocacy group wants new, proactive safety laws so unsafe products aren’t sold in the market.

“Australia’s product safety laws are shamefully weak. 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,”
said Choice product safety campaigner Amy Pereira.

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

She said that companies don’t have a general obligation to ensure the safety of their products and that new laws should require basic safety checks.

According to Pereira, each year there are around 780 deaths and around 52,000 injuries due to using unsafe products. Without stricter laws, these numbers will rise. A Choice survey found that 93 per cent of Australians thinks existing laws protect them against unsafe products.

“Australians are in the dark when it comes to product safety. 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,” said Pereira.

The Federal Government said it will consider the recommendations from the Treasury.

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