02.CHOICE CEO Message - August
In the final sitting days of this federal parliament, I spent three days walking the corridors of Parliament House with the CHOICE campaigns team. We crammed 18 meetings into three days and, while the politicians were distracted by some larger events underway, we had some lively discussions about the hot issues for our members.
Earlier this year, we asked you to tell us which issues you wanted us to take to Canberra in this election year – and more than 3800 of you responded to the invitation. These issues were the focus of our talks with members of parliament from across the political spectrum. The number-one priority identified by CHOICE members and campaign supporters was food labelling.
We’ve been working hard for a better system of food country of origin
labelling, because our research has repeatedly found most people don’t understand terms such as “made in Australia” or “made in Australia from local and imported ingredients”.
So far, neither of the major parties has committed to overhauling the system but, as a result of our efforts, a growing number of backbenchers agree there is need for action. We took the opportunity to emphasise our support for a better system of nutrition labelling. In June we had a historic win, with food ministers endorsing a new system of star ratings that provides easy-to-read information about the nutritional value of food on the front of packaging.
We will, however, need strong political leadership to ensure the food industry implements these changes - or if it does not, to make the new system mandatory.
Our discussions with politicians also focused on the other key priorities identified by you – credit card surcharges, the outrageously high prices we pay in Australia for digital products, and ongoing concerns about the affordability and of energy.
Another issue that’s attracting a lot of political attention is whether GST should be applied to goods bought online from overseas. While much of the debate about online shopping focuses on lower prices, here at CHOICE we believe many people shop online for other reasons – because you can do it at any time of day or night, or because some online retailers offer better service than traditional shops. Sometimes consumers are happy to pay more online in return for the convenience. This month, we put the customer service offered by online retailers to the test.
One of the dark corners of the retailing world is counterfeit goods. At best, they offer you cheap alternatives to expensive, branded products - but, at worst, can see you spending money on inferior or unsafe goods. Our upcoming report on this issue will help you to avoid some of the traps!
Alan Kirkland, CEO
Phone: 1800 266 786