Information standards (ACL)
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 a number of mandatory information standards including:
- the Free Range Egg Labelling Information standard - eggs labelled as free range must meet certain requirements including stocking densities of 10,000 hens or less per hectare;
- Cosmetics Ingredients Labelling - product ingredient information should be available to help consumers compare products, identify ingredients and avoid adverse reactions;
- Tobacco Health Warnings – tobacco products must carry health warning labelling comprised of graphic images, warning statements, 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.
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.
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’.
Supplying goods and services that do not comply with an information standard is an offence.
The maximum penalty is $10 million for a body corporate and $500,000 for an individual. Civil penalties for the same amount apply.
Breaching an information standard can also lead to:
- personal damages;
- compensatory orders;
- corrective advertising orders; and
- adverse publicity orders.
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