Abbott to be tackled on cheap trailer imports

The new Federal Government will face immediate pressure to crack down on cheap Chinese camper trailers being passed off as Australian made.

The firm responsible for protecting the official Australian Made labelling system says it believes importers are skirting around existing rules and confusing camper trailer buyers. Australian Made CEO Ian Harrison says he will be seeking urgent talks with the Abbott Government’s industry and Small Business Ministers to try to change current rules.

According to Mr Harrison, camper trailer importers can legally apply the Australian made logo to imported trailers today, because under current rules they can argue more than 50 percent of the cost of their units have been incurred in Australia, or the imported units have been “substantially transformed” here. “Given the high costs of labour, transport and marketing here, it is easy to get inside that 50 percent threshold,” Mr Harrison said.

“After being lobbied by the Camper Trailer Guild we went and checked out the companies causing concern and it is our understanding they meet the requirements as they stand and their trailers can be legally described as Australian made. “But if you ask people buying camper trailers if they really understand what the Australian Made logo means and what they are buying and the answer is they do not.” Mr Harrison said he’d seen examples of trailers with “shocking quality lightweight canvas” being passed off as Australian made. “What we’re most upset about is the Australian Made country of origin logo is a premium brand and should be accorded the right level of importance,” he said.

Camper trailer imports is one of six key areas of concern the Australian Made organisation wants the new Government to address, although Mr Harrison says any tightening of the current rules to better inform buyers was ultimately a matter for the Australian Consumer and Competition Commission (ACCC), which to date had dragged its heels.

“We need to get the ACCC on board. Ultimately the ACCC determines the guidelines and it has been the ACCC’s view that it is not resourced enough to develop new guidelines.” Mr Harrison said he was keen to win back several Australian camper trailer manufacturers which had stopped using the Australian Made logo in protest, preferring to use the Australian Camper Guild logo instead.

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