PC launches ‘right to repair’ inquiry with issues paper

The Productivity Commission has published an issues paper as a prelude to its forthcoming inquiry into the costs and benefits of a right of repair.

There is no single definition of a “right to repair”, but the PC says that “in essence it relates to regulations to maximise a consumer’s opportunity to repair their goods and avoid creating additional waste (including e-waste”.

The commission has been asked to assess the costs and benefits of a right to repair in Australia and the impact that regulatory or policy changes could have on market offerings for repair services and replacement products.

The inquiry will examine:

  • whether there are regulatory or manufacturer-imposed barriers to accessing repair services, including the role of embedded software, intellectual property, and commercially sensitive knowledge in limiting access to repairs; and
  • the impacts of waste (especially e-waste generated from the disposal of consumer electronics and household goods) and the current arrangements for the disposal and management of e-waste.

The effect of premature and planned product obsolescence on the growth of e-waste will also be examined.

The PC says it will take a community-wide view in its approach to the inquiry, balancing the (sometimes competing) interests of consumers, manufacturers, suppliers and repairers, to achieve the greatest benefits for the community as a whole (including the environment).

The due date for inquiry submissions is 1 February 2021, with a draft report scheduled for release in June 2021.

The PC says it expects to hand a final report to government at the end of October.

Go to the PC’s website to download the issues paper and make a submission.