SUBJECT/S: WA Tourist attractions, Product shrinkage, Takata airbags, LNG

GARETH PARKER: Here in the studio for the first time in a while is the Member for Perth Tim Hammond, from the Labor Party. G’day Tim.

 SHADOW MINISTER FOR CONSUMER AFFAIRS TIM HAMMOND: G’day Gareth, thanks for having us on.

 PARKER: This is a discussion right in the heart of your patch.

 HAMMOND: It absolutely is; I reckon it’s fantastic.

PARKER: What do you reckon of the cable car, first of all, are you a supporter or an opponent of that?

 HAMMOND: I think it’s got heaps of upside. When you think about the unique landscape from Kings Park down to Elizabeth Quay; and then you think about how amazing that would look going the other way; particularly over to the river toward the coast to watch the sun go down, I reckon it would be terrific.

I think Evan’s point was really good. We need to be really careful as to who will actually pay for the thing but I reckon it’s a great idea and worth exploring.

 PARKER: Are there any other attractions that you can think of that you would like to see pursued?

 HAMMOND: I reckon we’re working well on getting the balance right. I'd like to see a bit more activity at Elizabeth Quay.

 PARKER: And that will happen in time, won’t it?

 HAMMOND: Hopefully, as consumer confidence rebounds we’ll see more development down there; I think that will come on. I think we have to work out ways to add value to that which is why I think the cable car has some attraction to it.

 PARKER: Another caller, his name is Colin; he lives in Cottesloe and used to be the Premier of this State. He didn’t want to go on air but he did say that the open range zoo, now who proposed that? I think it was Colin who proposed that, he said that would bring families.

 HAMMOND: Well, I’m not sure whereabouts in Perth you’d put it.

 PARKER: He had a site out Chittering way.

 HAMMOND: Perhaps the Dizzy Lamb site, back in the day.

PARKER: Up at Wanneroo.

 HAMMOND: Get rid of the bumper boats and put in the wild zoo there. Seriously though,I think the public voted with their feet in relation to the open range zoo, with the greatest of respect to Colin from Cottesloe, I think the results spoke for themselves there.

PARKER: I don’t see a Labor Government pursuing that but maybe a future Liberal Government might.

A bunch of things to talk to you about today other than tourist attractions. One with your Consumer Affairs hat on, that’s your Shadow Portfolio, we’ve been talking quite a bit about this airbag recall and last week the ACCC were pretty adamant the Government, effectively your portfolio counterpart, needs to issue a mandatory recall. I presume you agree?

 HAMMOND: I do but I also think there are more urgent steps that can be taken that the Minister has available to him under the Act.

Just for those who might not have heard, the numbers speak for themselves, they’re incredibly stark. We’ve got this issue with these faulty Takata airbags – they actually come in two categories of airbags; there is a more broad, generic airbag which has an impact affecting over two million vehicles which we know should be subject to a voluntary recall but only a third of them have currently been replaced and that is a big deal.

But there is a bigger deal in terms of the ‘Alpha’ type airbag. They are in fewer cars, probably about 50,000, but the statistics in relation to the risk of those airbags going off either simultaneously or in the wrong way upon a collision are as high as one in two.

This is a really big deal and these faulty airbags, the ‘Alpha’ airbags, have already killed 19 people around the world and we’ve already had a fatality in Australia. The ACCC have come out in a committee and backed in the urgency required to make sure we get these cars off the road.

Now, it’s all well and good for the Minister, who I get along with quite well I have to say, Michael McCormack, he’s a good fellow. But there is a power under the Competition and Consumer Act -Section 132J - which says if the evidence makes it clear there is an eminent risk of death, serious illness or serious injury the Minister can immediately issue the recall notice.

He doesn’t have to do this talk-fest that he is currently going on under a different provision of the Act.   

PARKER: So basically at the moment he is going through a consultation process with the automotive industry about it to see if he gives effect to the ACCC recommendations but we had Delia Rickard from the ACCC on this program last week and she was adamant. She said if you have those ‘Alpha’ airbags you’re talking; she said the ACCC’s view is clear, stop driving your car right now.

 HAMMOND: Correct. Look, the risks are just too great to ignore. One death is one death too many and we need to get these cars off the road.

My greatest fear is there are mums and dads driving around with kids in the car in a situation where they don’t know whether they have got one of these airbags or not.

The Minister has the power to pull the trigger straight away and I would implore him to do so.

If anyone at home is concerned about this, and they should be, jump on the website:  – just have a look to see if you have an affected vehicle. 

PARKER: Tim, have you ever suffered from shrinkage?

 HAMMOND: Well, I tell you what. I get as disappointed as anyone when I’m ready get into a packet of Tim Tams and…you can’t see me blushing on radio, that’s a good result…I’m expecting a dozen Tim Tams in my packet but I’ve only got 10. I tell you what, there’s nothing worse than being ripped off with a bit of shrinkage in your Tim Tams.

 PARKER: What did you think we were talking about Dougo? Shane Douglas is looking at me funny on the other side of the glass. We’re talking about product shrinkage.

 HAMMOND: Indeed, look, I heard Enda Brady talking about this with Millsy and Baz this morning in relation to the UK but it is actually something that is happening here.

We have product shrinkage in our Freddo Frogs, 15 grams down to 12 grams, and still paying about the same price. We have product shrinkage in our Samboy chips; we’ve got product shrinkage in our Tim Tams. Now, this is a consumer affairs issue because the public have a right to know what they are getting.

What we really need is more information not less on our packaging about what we are getting in terms of value for money. The problem with that is there is now a review being undertaken which this Government has implemented which, if anything, sends all of this in the other direction.

It’s a packaging review that is being undertaken, submissions closed on about the 30 June. What it seems to be indicating is that corporations and manufactures have greater freedom, not less, in terms of what they put on their packages to let consumers know what’s in them.

I think that is a big concern as everyday shoppers reasonably expecting to get a dozen Tim Tams in their packet and not knowing until they get home, having paid the same price, they’re not getting what they paid for.

PARKER: So what do you think, there should be a regulation that requires consumer product manufactures to notify people when they change their standard product sizes?

 HAMMOND: I think it’s got to be really clear on the packaging. I think people just need to know, when they are doing their shopping, that they are getting what they pay for. There’s nothing worse than feeling ripped off.

PARKER: It does annoy people.

 HAMMOND: There’s nothing worse than shrinkage.

PARKER: Quite right. Now, we were going to talk about LNG, which we can do in about 30 seconds. But Paul Murray; fascinating column in this morning’s West Australian which suggests that so much of our pollution actually comes from the fuel used for shipping and an alternative might be to use LNG instead of diesel to prevent that. What do you think of that?

 HAMMOND: I would like to commend Paul on his article; I think it was written very well. He referred to an event I attended last night in my portfolio area of assisting in the resources space. It is a terrific opportunity for Western Australian to back in this innovative exercise of replacing traditional bunkering fuels like diesel with LNG. We’ve got heaps of it, it can create jobs, it can lower emissions, I think it is a really exciting prospect and I think Paul has done the industry a great service with his article this morning in the West.  

PARKER: You can check it out in the paper this morning. Tim, perfectly executed to the second.

 HAMMOND: Always a pleasure.