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When Will Australians Get The Right To Repair?

right to repair

While the US and the EU appear to be progressing with ‘right to repair’ regulations, Australia is still struggling to make headway in guaranteeing people the right to repair electronic goods.

This week Vice reported on leaked plans that suggest the EU Commission plans to focus on electronics and ICT as a priority sector for ‘right to repair’ regulations in the upcoming Circular Economy Action Plan (due to be released later today).

In Australia, we have yet to see such regulations passed by Parliament, though there has been a push to implement ‘right to repair’ laws.

Last August the ACT Minister for Consumer Affairs Shane Rattenbury presented a ‘right to repair’ discussion paper to the Consumer Affairs Forum, which called for the Productivity Commission to conduct an inquiry into the issue.

Although the Federal Consumer Affairs Minister has written to the Federal Treasurer to ask him to give referral to the Productivity Commission, it is unclear whether this will go ahead.

“Consumers in Australia deserve the right to have faulty goods repaired by a manufacturer or third party, or in some cases to undertake self-repair,” Rattenbury told ChannelNews. “A ‘right to repair’ is also good for the planet, as it stops products and resources being wasted – filling up landfills and using the earth’s resources. Australians create around 25kg of e-waste per person every year.”

The EU’s Right to Repair action group, a coalition of organisations supporting the cause, are advocating for access to repair information and spare parts for all, products to be more repairable and longer lasting, the establishment of an EU-wide repair labelling system, and the promotion of repair beyond the EU to accelerate market transformation at the global level.

In October last year the EU passed legislation that required appliance manufacturers to supply replacement parts to professional repairmen for 10 years after the product was launched, starting in 2021.

The US has made progress in ensuring the right to repair as well. In 2018 eighteen states introduced some form of ‘right to repair’ legislation and various agricultural equipment and automotive producers have signed memorandums of understanding to facilitate the third-party repair of their products. In August 2019 Apple announced it would allow some basic third-party repairs, though in practice there have been significant barriers here.

“Rulings in overseas jurisdictions provide further examples that Australian regulators can draw on,” Rattenbury told ChannelNews. “This is an important issue that will help consumers and sustainability. I’ll keep advocating for this.”

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