This report sets out the Productivity Commission’s findings and recommendations on the issue of a right to repair in Australia. The focus has been on whether there are barriers to repair that may require a government policy response, either through existing or new laws.
A ‘right to repair’ is the ability of consumers to have their products repaired at a competitive price using a repairer of their choice. Realising this aspiration in a practical way involves a range of policies, including consumer and competition law, intellectual property protections, product labelling, and environmental and resource management.
This report finds that there are significant and unnecessary barriers to repair for some products. It proposes a suite of measures that aim to enhance consumers’ right to repair while providing net benefits to the community.
Consumers already have rights to have their products repaired, replaced or refunded, and to access spare parts and repair facilities, under consumer guarantees in the Australian Consumer Law. These guarantees are reasonably comprehensive and generally work well, but they should be improved.
There are several opportunities to give independent repairers greater access to repair supplies, and increase competition for repair services, without compromising public safety or discouraging innovation.
A lack of consumer information about a product’s repairability or durability is likely to make it difficult for some consumers to select more repairable and durable products based on their preferences, while reducing manufacturers’ incentives to develop such products.
There is also scope to improve the way products are managed over their life, to reduce e‑waste ending up in landfill. In particular, the Government should amend product stewardship schemes to allow for reused e‑waste to be counted in scheme targets. Further, the use of electronic trackers within product stewardship schemes should increase, to improve awareness of the end‑of‑life location of e‑waste and ensure it is being sent to environmentally‑sound facilities.