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Parliament has taken the first steps towards making companies responsible for the full lifecycle of their products by passing the Product Stewardship Act 2011 as part of its National Waste Policy initiative. The act is essentially designed to reduce wastage, improve recycling rates, eliminate hazardous substances and reduce the overall environmental impact of products as they reach the end of their useful life.
The High Court recently upheld Google's appeal against the Federal Court ruling that the company had breached the Trade Practices Act in relation to advertisements placed by customers of its AdWords programme. In a unanimous decision, the High Court found that Google was not responsible for any misleading and deceptive representations contained in such advertisements.
The Australian Consumer Law provides for a wide range of consumer protections. The law contains provisions relating to the safety of consumer goods (and product-related services) and the liability of suppliers and manufacturers for goods containing safety defects. It also introduces a new system of statutory consumer guarantees. Suppliers should avoid prematurely describing goods as unsafe.
The Trade Practices Act 1974 (Cth) was recently renamed the Competition and Consumer Act 2010 (Cth). As a result of the change in law, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has imposed onerous updating requirements on suppliers to notify complaints connected to consumer goods. Suppliers of consumer goods must ensure that they have a compliance programme in place.