The ACT has secured Commonwealth, state and territory support to progress work on a ‘right to repair’ – a national-first.
A ‘right to repair’ is the consumers’ ability to 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.
The ACT has taken the lead at the Consumer Affairs Forum by advocating for a national ‘right to repair’.
ACT Minister for Consumer Affairs Shane Rattenbury said rights to repair is good for the planet, and good for consumers.
“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,” Rattenbury said.
“A ‘right to repair’ means that consumers won’t simply be stuck dealing with one manufacturer – they can take issues into their own hands to get the product repaired get help from a third party. It also means manufacturers will be obliged to build products capable of being repaired, as well as providing manuals.”
Federal Minister Sukkar is writing to the Treasurer, requesting Right to Repair is added to the Productivity Commission’s forward work agenda.
“We’ve taken the first step to get this work underway, to assist Australians who want to repair the goods they have – rather than constantly needing to buy new items instead of undertaking what can be a simple repair job.
“My hope is that a detailed examination by the Productivity Commission will allow the ‘right to repair’ concept to be imported into the Australian context, resulting in reforms that both benefit Australian consumers and improve sustainability,” said Rattenbury.
Industry calls for reform
The movement has steadily gained momentum in Europe following a series of proposals by environmental ministers to force manufacturers to make goods, such as lighting, televisions and large home appliances, that last longer and are easier to service. In Australia the notion and practice of right to repair is in its infancy.
Lisa Michalson, director of commercial and domestic vacuum cleaner wholesaler Cleanstar, is advocating for similar legislation for commercial machinery.
Michalson is calling for the introduction of formal cleaning machinery maintenance and repairs accreditation to not only attract new talent to the industry but encourage a less ‘throwaway’ culture.
While there is formal training for technicians such as electrotechnology, appliance services and test and tag courses, Michalson told Inclean there are none specific to the reparation of commercial and industrial cleaning machinery.
“Cleaning supply shops and repairers are always looking for good and knowledgeable appliance repairers but struggle to find them.
“The cleaning industry need to campaign collectively to government to offer an apprenticeship scheme for appliance repairs. The government needs to stand up and take responsibility when it comes to encouraging the repair and recycle of cleaning machines.
“We [Cleanstar] prefer to sell good quality machines that can be repaired, rather than thrown away, encouraging the repair of machines first. Our throwaway culture means the quality of the product is often second rate. Instead of fixing these machines, it’s cheaper to purchase new replacements.”
Michalson said the lack of industry-specific training will result in less access to appliance repairers, as young people enter more mainstream trades. She believes formal accreditation will also encourage more technicians to the cleaning industry.
“The industry will suffer, it will take longer to complete repairs and cleaners will suffer with their machinery out of action. The cleaning industry and cleaners themselves need to invest in good quality machines, repair them when needed rather than throwing them away.”
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