First, I want to express my deepest sympathies and those of the Government to the family of the gentleman who tragically lost his life. It’s heartbreaking. It’s an awful tragedy.
I am the Minister responsible for Consumer Affairs and I do want to ensure the public that consumers are protected from unsafe products. I am working with the Minister for Urban Infrastructure Paul Fletcher and the Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development, as well as the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission on this matter.
I’ve just got off the phone from them now and we want to ensure manufacturers rectify any remaining faulty airbags as soon as possible. Minister Fletcher and I wrote to manufacturers yesterday and we demanded an urgent status report regarding these airbag recalls, including the number of vehicles still affected. We want to know what the manufacturers are doing to address this situation. We have given them one week to respond. After that week is up I will be then conferring with Minister Fletcher, his Department and the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission to see what course of action we will take, and if indeed a mandatory recall is necessary.
But I do want to stress that manufacturers have been running a voluntary recall. This doesn’t mean that they can opt out; it’s rather that they report an issue and they must then comply with the recall of any faulty product. It means the organisations have self-regulated and taken it upon themselves to rectify the issue. And once they’ve reported the issue, the Government provides oversight.
That’s what we’re doing in this regard. We’ve given the manufacturers a week to respond and once they respond we’ll see what course of action needs to be taken.
That could mean a mandatory recall. It could mean the recall is stepped up. But now we want to know what measures the manufacturers are doing to promote the recall and the self-regulation they’re conducting. We want to make sure they let all consumers know what they’re doing and drawing attention to the fact that they’ve got the voluntary recall process in place.
Information about the recalls is available on the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission website. There’s a special productsafety.gov.au/takata website and it’s obviously also available from the vehicle manufacturers as well.
We expect the manufacturers to ensure that all consumers know at the moment. And if indeed a mandatory recall is required, based on advice, then we also want to make sure – as the Government and the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission would demand – that there are proper installers. That they are trained; that they are ready to go and they undertake any recall in the suitable timeline, because this is so important.
The manufacturers need to make sure they’ve got properly trained staff, the sufficient number of airbags which are properly going to do the job into the future and to make sure they do it within what would be deemed a reasonable timeframe, but particularly because of the safety aspects of this.
That’s why we’ve called on the manufacturers and we’ve given them one week to come back to us with all that sort of information. After the week July 31 we will collate that information and we will act accordingly.