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Tate to push ahead on product liability

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7 May 1992

Tate to push ahead on product liability

The Federal Minister for Justice and Consumer Affairs, Senator Michael Tate, has vowed to continue his push to achieve further major reform of product liability laws on behalf of Australian consumers.

And he said today that he was confident legislation to be introduced in two weeks time would achieve his fundamental goal of getting the new foundations for product liability law firmly in place.

Senator Tate was commenting following last night’s Caucus committee decision to remove from the current draft legislation three contentions provisions which have been bitterly opposed by business, and instead refer them to the Senate Standing Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs.

“Despite this decision, I am confident we will have a positive change in product liability laws which will be passed in this session of Parliament”, he said.

“And on the three issues opposed by business, I will have my day in court - or rather in committee - to argue for their inclusion”, Senator Tate said.

The three controversial elements are:

Extra-territoriality, giving overseas consumers the right to sue Australian manufacturers over defective products

The period of repose, which Senator Tate proposed should allow complaints to be made up to 20 years after manufacture.

The so called “Aussie battler” provision designed to ensure that where, in all the circumstances of the case, a consumer’s claim is reasonable, then the consumer should be guaranteed his or her day in court.

Senator Tate said the controversy over these three issues should not hold up the passage of the legislation, and the benefits which will flow to consumers as a result of the legislation.

“The Senate committee process will work very well to force business lobby groups to publicly advocate their concerns, rather than trying to influence events through private lobbying and a flurry of press releases.

“And the consumer lobby groups will also be able to put their case publicly with the full vigour and persuasive abilities at their disposal to soften the hearts of those who have been opposing these aspects of the reform”, Senator Tate said.


He said it was vital that the Parliament acknowledge and act upon the right of consumers to have ready access to compensation when they are injured by defective products.

“Guaranteeing this right, while providing manufacturers with a fair and clear law in line with international standards, has been my principal objective throughout the long process of developing product liability legislation.

“I remain committed to the passage of legislation which strikes a proper balance between the interests of consumers and manufacturers", Senator Tate said.

The legislation giving effect to these reforms will now be introduced into the Parliament in the week of sittings beginning on May 26.

For information contact Shaun Gath or Adrian Wild on 06 277 7260