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Tuesday, 19 November 1974
Page: 2473

Senator GEORGES (QUEENSLAND) - I direct a question to the Attorney-General. I attract his attention to an article in this month's issue of 'Choice' magazine which discusses the safety of children's floatation toys. Is the Attorney-General aware of the article and the magazine's claim that children run the risk of being drowned because the toys are being passed off as safety floats? Will he take steps to ensure that parents are made fully aware of the risks involved in using these toys as safety devices and will he take action against the distributors for dangerous misrepresentation?

Senator MURPHY - I am aware of the article. It is correct, as the honourable senator has said, that many of these devices are not lifesaving devices but merely toys. They are dangerous in that they are made of plastic, which might be easily punctured and cause a child to get into difficulties. It is clear, being toys, that the children using them should at all times be under the supervision of adults. I know that some publicity has been given to this matter in the newspapers. The best advice I can offer is that parents ought to get toys bearing the mark of the Standards Association of Australia.

I have given instructions for a regulation to be prepared under the Trades Practices Act in order to prevent the sale of devices which do not conform with the consumer safety standards. I understand that the regulation may be available for signature today. I hope that it will become operative soon. The process has been initiated by me. Of course, as honourable senators know, this is a matter which has to be dealt with by the Executive Council and I do not wish to intrude in any way upon the functions of the Council or of His Excellency, but I think that, in the public interest, everyone should know what is happening. The implementation of such a regulation will be recommended. I trust that it will come into operation before the holiday period is in full swing. As the honourable senator would know, such a regulation would carry with it under the Act a heavy penalty for contravention.

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