Total recall: States offer regulation of burning washing machines to Canberra, ACCC

Powers to recall faulty products could be given to Canberra in Australia’s biggest fair trading shake-up.

The prospect of any federal takeover of state government powers is usually a trigger for political disputes and bureaucratic pushback, especially when regulation, enforcement and revenue are thrown into the mix.

Unless it’s Samsung’s infamous self-combusting washing machines, that almost every jurisdiction would prefer not to have to deal with.

The Productivity Commission late last week released its draft report, Consumer Law Enforcement and Administration, which calls for states and territories to relinquish “powers to issue interim bans and compulsory recalls in relation to unsafe products” and hand them to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission.

It could be a watershed in how product recalls are nationally coordinated and administered and the kind of centralisation consumer advocates have been calling for for years to get rid of the regulatory equivalent of rail gauges.

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