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Friday, May 14, 2021

One-step closer to consumers’ right to repair

Consumers are one step closer to having the “right to repair” their goods, with a push by the ACT Government now being considered by the Productivity Commission.

ACT Greens’ leader and Consumer Affairs Minister from 2016-2020 (cabinet positions in the new assembly not yet determined) Shane Rattenbury, said he took the issue to last years’ Legislative and Governance Forum on Consumer Affairs (CAF).

The CAF is made up of representatives from Commonwealth, states, territories, and New Zealand.

The “right to repair” means consumers could have faulty goods repaired at a competitive price by a manufacturer, a third party, or in some instances, self-repair, using available replacement parts and having access to information.

Mr Rattenbury said consumers were increasingly restrained by manufacturer warranties that dictated repair options and by intellectual property constraints such as specifically made tools and by products design.

Mr Rattenbury said giving consumers choice when repairing their goods was better for consumers and the planet.

Electronic waste such as laptops are a good example. When they reach end of life, it is often cheaper to replace the computer than fix it.

Australians are among the highest users of technology products, generating around 25 kilograms of e-waste per capita each year.

The “right to repair” is new to Australia but the concept is gaining support globally with the European Union and United States leading the way.

“Increasingly consumers are buying tech and other products that become obsolete after a certain period, often due to software and security upgrades or the like. I’d like to see the power back in the hands of the consumer,” Mr Rattenbury said.

“The ACT Government has a strong commitment to sustainability as well as supporting a community which is empowered to make informed decisions when it comes to their consumer rights.

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