TIM HAMMOND, SHADOW MINISTER FOR CONSUMER AFFAIRS
ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT TREASURER & SHADOW MINISTER FOR COMPETITION AND PRODUCTIVITY
$700,000 PENALTY FOR ‘FLUSHABLE WIPES’ CLAIM A DROP IN THE BUCKET
Labor has welcomed the Federal Court order that Pental Limited and Pental Products Pty Ltd (Pental) pay $700,000 for claiming that their toilet cleaning wipes were flushable, but we note the penalty pales in comparison to the cost of evacuating the blocked up sewers they cause.
Last year, we drew attention to the 500 tonnes of so-called flushable wipes that Sydney Water says are removed each year. Around the country, the cost to swipe wipes from pipes has been estimated at over $15 million. One veteran plumber reported removing a 12-metre block of wipes from a single home.
Labor has long criticised the penalties for anti-consumer conduct – only $1.1 million per offence. For large multinational companies, wee penalties like that could just be chalked up to ‘the cost of doing business’.
We are pleased the Government has taken our advice to increase penalties.
The so-called ‘flushable’ wipes were marketed as having been made from a special material that disintegrated in the sewer system ‘just like toilet paper’.
The court found those claims constituted false or misleading representations, a contravention of the Australian Consumer Law.
The costs of unflushable ‘flushable’ wipes have also been dumped on consumers: families have paid plumbers between $300 and $16,000 to clear out their pipes.
Letting companies get away with misleading and deceiving consumers is about as funny as not flushing a number two on a summer day.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s proceedings against another leading retailer of ‘flushable wipes’, Kimberly-Clark, is still being worked through.
Authorised by Noah Carroll ALP Canberra