Assistant Minister for Science, Jobs and Innovation Zed Seselja recently launched the National Measurement Institute’s (NMI) annual plan to ensure Australian consumers and businesses have ‘correct weight’ (and volume, length and number) whenever they buy or sell goods by measurement.

As the national regulator of trade measurement, NMI’s 2018-19 National Compliance Plan outlines a program of compliance activities across the economy, covering both wholesale and retail sales.

These include visits to 8000 businesses, testing 10,000 measuring instruments, inspecting 60,000 lines of packaged goods, and making 1000 ‘secret shopper’ trial purchases.

The areas that NMI will be giving special attention as part of its compliance program in 2018-19 include:

  • A two-week ‘blitz’ of the major supermarket chains. This concentrated national audit program will focus on trading practices and the accuracy of equipment.
  • A review of sales of grain and grain products, from the farm gate through to the shop front. This will include a focus on the methods used to determine how farmers are paid based on quality measurements such as protein and moisture content.
  • Checks to ensure that the declared weight of pre-packaged frozen seafood does not include any ice or glaze. This inspection program will cover the whole distribution chain, including packers, importers, wholesalers and retailers.
  • Auditing systems at manufacturers and importers to help prevent any non-compliant products entering the supply chain before they reach the ultimate consumer.
  • A focus on the accuracy of fuel dispensers.

ACAPMA Executive Manager for Employment and Training, Elisha Radwanowski explains, “while historically most errors in fuel dispensers have been shown to be in favour of the customer, but this does not remove the need for businesses to ensure they are regularly testing and calibrating their equipment”

The Plan also outlines the work NMI’s national network of trade measurement inspectors undertakes on behalf of other Commonwealth agencies, including:

  • Tobacco Plain Packaging compliance investigations for the Department of Health
  • Country of Origin Food Labelling market surveillance for the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission.

“This combined regulatory approach is something that we are seeing undertaken more frequently, where regulators will work cooperatively where possible to address multiple compliance and regulator areas in a single visit.  This approach minimises the impact on a site level, while achieving efficiencies within the regulators and inspectors networks.”  Elisha continued.

ACAPMA recommends that retail fuel sites take the time to familiarise themselves with the requirements around the calibration and certification of dispensers, as measurement equipment, as well as in the areas of Plain Packaging and the more recent Country of Origin requirements.

Senator Seselja noted there were penalties for businesses that breach the law.

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