Information standards (ACL)

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Information standards regulate the type and amount of information provided to consumers about goods and services.

The Commonwealth minister responsible for administering the Australian Consumer Law can:

  • make new information standards; and
  • declare an existing standard as a national information standard. For example, the minister can declare a standard issued by Standards Australia, a non-government organisation, as a national standard.

An information standard for goods or services can:

  • require particular information to be provided, or not;
  • set the form or manner of this information; and 
  • give a certain meaning to information.

The Australian Consumer Law recognises the following mandatory information standards:

  • care labelling for clothing and textile products - labels should include appropriate instructions to help consumers care for the item;
  • ingredient labelling of cosmetics and toiletries - labels must state the ingredients to help consumers compare products, identify ingredients and avoid adverse reactions;
  • tobacco labelling – tobacco products must carry required health warnings which comprise graphic images, warning messages, explanatory messages and information messages.

The law also allows Australian governments to regulate consumer goods or product-related services by imposing mandatory safety standards.

For more information, see the ‘Mandatory standards’ section of the Product Safety Australia website.

Business responsibilities

Suppliers, manufacturers, importers, distributors, hirers and retailers must:

  • ensure goods and services they supply comply with relevant information standards, if sold within Australia; and
  • be familiar with information standards relevant to those goods and services.

Example:

A retailer sold imported dresses not properly labelled with instructions for washing, dry-cleaning and ironing. The retailer was fined because the labels did not contain all instructions required by the information standard

A full list of existing information standards can be found on the Product Safety Australia website – go to ‘Bans, standards and recalls’ and select ‘Mandatory standards’.

Penalties

Supplying goods and services that do not comply with an information standard is an offence.

The maximum penalty is $1.1 million for a body corporate and $220,000 for an individual. Civil penalties for the same amount apply.

Breaching an information standard can also lead to:

  • injunctions; 
  • personal damages; 
  • compensatory orders; 
  • corrective advertising orders; and
  • adverse publicity orders. 

 

 

 

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