Improving the Effectiveness of the Consumer Product Safety System: Australian Law Reform in Asia-Pacific Context
Journal of Consumer Policy (2020) 43:829-850
27 Pages Posted: 3 Feb 2020 Last revised: 2 Nov 2020
Date Written: February 3, 2020
The Australian Government is undertaking public consultations over possible improvements to the 2010 Australian Consumer Law (ACL) regime, including again the idea of adding a European-style general safety provision (GSP). To bolster the case for such reform, Part 2 of this paper analyses 2017-9 data trends from the OECD Global Recalls Portal for Australia compared to several comparable economies, especially in the Asia-Pacific region where Australia now has most of its trade and investment links. The analysis finds a persistently high per capita recall rate for Australia, compared to several jurisdictions including Korea, Japan and especially the USA. However, the analysis identifies various legal and other factors across the jurisdictions that impact on interpreting such data.
Part 3 therefore begins by highlighting some more specific patterns uncovered from an ongoing joint research project comparing child product safety trends particularly in Australia and the US. It highlights various concerns regarding recalls in Australia, as well as weaknesses in Australia’s ACL regime (in addition to the lack of a GSP), in coordinating with sector-specific regulation, and in private law mechanisms that could more indirectly promote consumer product safety. Some estimated economic costs from current levels of reported injuries, as well as of many recalls, further reinforce the case for adding a GSP.
Part 4 concludes that this improvement to the ACL could be combined with some of the other reform options outlined by the Australian Government’s consultation Regulatory Impact Statement, as well as the introduction of a novel “product safety substantiation order” power. The conclusions and analysis should be helpful for other jurisdictions considering product safety law reforms in an increasingly globalised and digital economy, and draw already on comparisons with regulatory regimes and issues particularly in the Asia-Pacific region.
Keywords: consumer law, product safety regulation, product liability, children's products, safety comparative law, Asian law, law reform, governance
JEL Classification: K10, K30
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation