Griffith University: Australia’s moment to embrace right to repair arrives

Repairing something is the first line of defence against the massive waste challenge confronting Australia according to Griffith University intellectual property expert Professor Leanne Wiseman.

Professor Wiseman, Chair of the Australian Repair Summit held recently in Canberra, said making things last should be a straightforward and affordable way of contributing to a circular economy, but needed smarter design, progressive manufacturers and policies to drive change.

“It’s really a problem for consumers. From phones and fridges, to tractors and computers, people own these goods in terms of physical rights of ownership so they should be able to choose a local repairer rather than going back to the manufacturer.”

She said rapid policy developments in the US, Europe and Australia meant the timing was right to launch Australia’s right to repair movement.

“During the summit we heard from the massive groundswell of supporters for independent repair both from within the repair industries and the community at large,” she said.

“It helped highlight the important role the right to repair movement plays in improving Australia’s environmental sustainability.”

One of the key presentations was delivered by Kyle Wiens co-founder and CEO of the website, hosting the most comprehensive library of free repair guides, and a vocal advocate of the right to repair in the US.

“Kyle’s support has been invaluable and was one of the first on board to support and sponsor our summit.

“He summarised developments in the US, from key findings in the recent Federal Trade Commission (FTC) ‘Nixing the Fix’ report to President Biden’s recent executive order for the FTC to support right to repair.”

The summit coincided with recent domestic policy developments including a new law making the sharing of car repair and service information compulsory and two separate inquiries launched by the Productivity Commission and the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC).

“The free flow of ideas was one of the major benefits of bringing together all the stakeholders at a national level.”

“Commissioner Paul Lindwall from the Productivity Commission spoke to the key areas their inquiry is focused on and whether there was a need to follow France and use labels to help consumers understand the life of a product,” Professor Wiseman said.

The Australian Repair Summit Steering Committee includes Lesley Yates, Australian Automotive Aftermarket Association (“AAAA”);John Gertsakis, EwasteWatch; Guido Verbist, Advocate and General Manager at Revolve Recycling; Karen and Dan Ellis, Mendit Australia; Matthew Steen, CHOICE and Dr Kanchana Kariyawasam, Griffith Business School and Law Futures Centre.

The Australian Repair Summit was hosted by the Griffith University Law Futures Centre.