NEWS Cracking down on imports
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.