Controlling the import sale and supply of high-power laser pointers

Regulatory impact statement

Publication Date: 
15 May 2013

This regulatory impact statement (RIS) was developed to inform policy decisions about whether to introduce new controls on high-power laser pointers. It considers options to manage the health and safety risks from exposure to the beams from high-power laser pointers. Such exposure could arise from accidental or unsafe use or malicious misuse of such laser pointers (eg, deliberately shining them at aircraft or at other peoples’ eyes).

The proposed new controls do not extend to all lasers, or even to all types of laser pointers – just the higher-power classes of laser pointers. Other high-power lasers, such as those used for public displays, are not covered by these proposals.  These are more sophisticated devices directed by electronics/mechanical means, and are different from the hand-held pointers.  

Concerns are based on a mix of quantitative data and anecdotal evidence. While this data provides a good indication that there is a problem warranting Government intervention, it does have limitations, so the true extent of the issue is still a little uncertain. Despite the data limitations, officials consider that there is sufficient justification to act now and introduce controls to help protect public health and safety.  

Controlling the importation, sale and supply of high-power laser pointers will impose costs on businesses that either import or sell such laser pointers. It will also impact on the ability of people to purchase such lasers for their recreational use.  However, such impacts have to be considered against the increasing numbers of such devices being imported, the marked lack of awareness about the potential dangers, and the ease of availability of high-power pointers. These factors are increasing the potential for malicious misuse and inadvertent harm caused by ignorance, including the potential catastrophic effects of a large scale accident such as a plane crash (even though the probability of this occurring is uncertain).   

This RIS does not consider new controls on the possession of hand-held laser pointers. Parliament will consider this issue further in the context of a Members Bill, the Summary Offences (Possession of Hand-held Lasers) Amendment Bill, which is before the House. 

For more information see our page on High-power laser pointers.

Regulatory impact statements

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