26 May 2004

Commonwealth's Commitment to Consumer Product Safety

The Commonwealth Government places a high priority on the safety of consumer products especially when it comes to infant and child products, Ross Cameron, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasurer, said today.

Consumer safety is a responsibility the Commonwealth Government takes seriously in its work to help prevent the anguish from product related deaths and injuries.

The Commonwealth's powers under the Trade Practices Act permit market interventions for unsafe products including mandatory recalls, product bans, warning notices and mandatory standards.

These mandatory safety standards apply to a range of baby and children's products, including household cots, baby walkers, bunk beds, children's nightclothes, vehicle child restraints and toys for children under 36 months.

The Government's consumer awareness program plays a vital role in educating and informing consumers. A recent consumer awareness campaign alerted parents and carers to 'strangulation hazards' associated with looped blind and curtain cords.

A consumer campaign alerting parents to remain with a child when bathing at all times, including when a bath seat and support is utilised, is under development. A mandatory safety standard for bath seats and supports is also under development.

The consumer awareness program extends to information websites (www.consumersonline.gov.au) and safety brochures on baby walkers, bunk beds and the booklets Safe Toys for Kids and Keeping Baby Safe, that cover the safety of the full range of nursery products. Brochures can be ordered free of charge by calling (free call) 1300 305 866.

The Government also monitors safety related product recalls to assess the effectiveness of the voluntary action taken by suppliers and advises suppliers on recall strategies. The Product Recalls Australia website (www.recalls.gov.au) provides consumers with current information on all safety recalls of products. In the last month three children's products, sunglasses, toy rockers and toy guns, have been recalled due to safety concerns.

A shared information data base used by Commonwealth, State and Territory officials to communicate alleged consumer product hazards supports efforts for national consistency.