Government cracks down on compliance

The Morrison government is making sure all Australians get what they pay for, with “concentrated blitzes” across four major retail sectors.

According to the government, the National Measurement Institute (NMI) 2019-20 National Compliance Plan will focus on fuel retailers, major supermarkets, licensed premises, and meat, fish and poultry retailers.

Compliance monitoring has identified that the proportion of retail fuel dispensers inaccurate to consumer disadvantage doubled between 2016-16 and 2017-18, from 2.4 per cent to 4.8 per cent. This trend was confirmed during the 2018-19 Retail Fuel audit program.

Putting retailers on notice

Minister for Industry, Science and Technology Karen Andrews says the aim is to instil confidence in consumers.

“Whether it’s filling up at the fuel pump or buying groceries at the supermarket, the Morrison government is putting retailers on notice,” Ms Andrews said.

“The NMI and its audits play an important role in maintaining a level playing field so consumers can shop with confidence.

“We recognise that most businesses want to do the right thing and will usually quickly correct any errors, but where we find severe or persistent offenders, we can impose fines or initiate prosecutions.”

What will be undertaken?

NMI’s compliance programs in 2019-20 will involve visits to 10,000 businesses, testing 10,000 measuring instruments, inspecting 70,000 lines of packaged goods, and making 1000 ‘secret shopper’ trial purchases.

The NMI will also review sales practices in the livestock industry and provide new traders with information on the requirements of trade measurement legislation.

In addition, NMI will undertake compliance activities on behalf of other agencies such as Tobacco Plain Packaging investigations for the Department of Health and Country of Origin Food Labelling market surveillance for the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission.

The NMI can issue infringement notices with fines of $1050 per offence. If the case is serious enough to warrant prosecution, the maximum fines are $210,000 per offence as a company or $42,000 per offence as an individual.

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