Power assisted bicycles have had a relatively untroubled run in Australia until recently.
Actions by police and the courts in NSW, owing to uncertainty about the definitions of a power assisted bicycle, and interpretations of the definition, has meant that many people who have bought in good faith have now found themselves with unusable machinery. Retailers have been approached to provide a refund or supply alternative products.
Advice from consumer affairs officials would indicate that, providing the retailer has sold the product in good faith and was not aware of anything that would affect the customers ability to use the product, they are not liable to provide refunds or exchanges. This is not to be taken as a legal opinion, if in doubt consult your own lawyer.
The issue was compounded by a decision taken in Queensland in late 2007 to ban the use of any power assisted bicycle that has a fuel engine as a power source. The reason is supposedly that young people are buying these machines and 'hotting them up'. Fuel engined bicycles are of great use in rural areas, where the longer distances may preclude battery power, due to the relatively shortrun time of current battery technology.
In late May 2012, the Australian government announced changes to the national vehicle safety standards that allow for greater consumer choice—while at the same time maintaining safety. The new power assisted category will allow 250 watt power assistance, only available while pedalling, and a limited low speed throttle setting. This is broadly in line with the European and Japanese standards for power assisted bicycles. The proposal is that the EU Standard EN 15194 will be the reference.