On 15 November 2012 the Commonwealth Assistant Treasurer, as Minster responsible for the administration of the Australian Consumer law, imposed a permanent ban on the sale of small, high powered magnets which pose a risk of serious injury or death if swallowed by children.
This ban applies to magnets that:
Sets of these small, high-powered rare-earth magnets, with diameters of approximately 4mm to 5mm have been marketed under various names, including 'BuckyBalls', 'Neocubes' and 'Neodymium sphere magnets'.
The permanent ban was imposed following interim bans put in place by state and territory ministers in August. The Assistant Treasurer’s decision followed consultation with manufacturers, importers, distributors and retailers of the products.
The banned products have been involved in a number of incidents across Australia where children have swallowed the small magnets and suffered serious injury and in at least one case death.
Some older children and teenagers have also swallowed the magnets after using them as imitation tongue or lip piercings.
If a child swallows more than one of these high-powered magnets, they can attach to each other across the intestinal wall and perforate the intestine, requiring emergency surgery.