NEWS Crack­ing down on im­ports

Sunday Territorian - - NEWS - JOHN ROLFE

COM­PA­NIES sell­ing cheap im­ports have been of­fi­cially warned to tighten safety stan­dards af­ter a record num­ber of re­calls.

The na­tion’s top con­sumer cop, Rod Sims, said the 12 per cent rise in dodgy prod­uct prob­lems was a “con­cern – ab­so­lutely” be­fore re­veal­ing the Aus­tralian Com­pe­ti­tion and Con­sumer Com­mis­sion had put on no­tice those will­ing to ship in sub­stan­dard wares just so they could of­fer lower shelf prices here.

“If you want to im­port cheap goods, that’s fine, lower prices for con­sumers is good,” the ACCC chair­man said. “But the bet­ter deal you’ve got the more you’ve got to check that (the prod­uct) is safe.”

He cited the on­go­ing In­fin­ity Ca­ble re­call, which has put thou­sands of houses and busi­nesses at risk of burn­ing down.

Nearly 4000km of the Chi­nese-made wiring was brought into Aus­tralia and most com­monly sold through the Masters hard­ware chain. It be­comes pre­ma­turely brit­tle and breaks when placed un­der stress near heat sources and roof ac­cess ar­eas, which may lead to elec­tric shock or a fire.

“The dread­ful thing with In­fin­ity Ca­ble is that the ca­bles have come into the coun­try,” Mr Sims said.

They were im­ported from China by a Syd­ney busi­ness, In­fin­ity Ca­ble Co. The ca­ble was never tested in Aus­tralia, only at the “Guan­dong (sic) Test­ing In­sti­tute of Prod­uct Qual­ity Su­per­vi­sion” and passed.

In­fin­ity’s direc­tor Lu Luo re­cently pleaded guilty to a charge un­der the Elec­tric­ity (Con­sumer Safety) Act. Luo will avoid jail-time be­cause she is a first of­fender un­der the Act. She was charged in 2013.

Since then lit­tle has been done to pre­vent a re­peat; ca­ble was rated low-risk be­fore the In­fin­ity saga – and still is.

But that may be about to change. Safety reg­u­la­tors are con­sid­er­ing whether to re­vamp risk-rat­ings based on how hard it is to re­move a prod­uct from the com­mu­nity.

There were 670 re­calls in 2015-16, up from 596 in the prior fi­nan­cial year. Cars were the most com­monly re­called good but the big­gest in­crease came in food and gro­ceries, up 73 per cent to 123.

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