We can tell you about a country wide prohibition on yet another round of dodgy Chinese-manufactured cabling products that have gone into homes in Australia. Who is at risk and what can you do? In today’s show we talk to Malcolm Richards, who is the CEO for the Master Electricians of Australia.
Kevin: Here’s a cautionary warning for anyone doing, I guess, home renovation or anything to do with electrical work around your home. It’s just been brought to our attention that there’s a statewide prohibition on a faulty batch of Chinese-manufactured cabling. This is not the first time it’s happened. I’m talking to Malcolm Richards, who is the CEO for the Master Electricians of Australia.
Malcolm, thanks for your time.
Malcolm: Good morning, Kevin.
Kevin: This is, in fact, the fourth occurrence. Is that right?
Malcolm: That’s correct. We saw the original major interruption with Infinity Cable a couple of years ago, where we had 38,000 kilometers of this cable around the country fail the durability test, and we’re starting to see some of that cable play up now as a lot of it is trying to be removed.
Subsequent to that, the regulators around the country have done some proactive testing of other products, and we’re quite pleased to see that before it got too far, they’ve found another product and banned its sale and are subsequently testing it further to have it removed from the marketplace.
Kevin: Is this the one you’re telling us about now or is this, in fact, a fifth one?
Malcolm: No. This is the fourth one we’re talking about now.
Kevin: You caught it fairly early in the run.
Malcolm: Yes. I understand that it was proactive testing, and this cable has been found to be faulty and failed a similar endurance test. SKL Cables is the brand. The difference between this cable and some of the previous cables is this this cable, we understand, is primarily sold through the wholesaler chain direct to electrical contractors, not readily available to the general public, such as Infinity or Olsent branded cable was at the time.
Kevin: How many properties do you think could be affected by this?
Malcolm: This is certainly Australia-wide. We don’t have the figures yet. The initial reports are that it’s a much smaller pool because they found the cable proactively through some industry testing. The benefit to consumers, in this case, because this cable is sold to electrical contractors, is they have an extra layer of protection.
Unfortunately, with Infinity cabling, with the cables sold direct to the public, if you purchased that cable and didn’t use a licensed electrician or you did use later because you were the purchaser of the product, you don’t have protection under the Australia Consumer Law from the electrical contractor.
If you engaged a licensed electrical contractor to install and purchase the products on your behalf and anything’s gone wrong with that product, you can claim back on that electrical contractor to make good, which is an extra layer of protection. Regardless of the company importing the cable going broke or the wholesaler not funding the response, the relationship between the customer and the contractor is solid, and the contractor is bound to fully make good for the customer.
Kevin: What’s going to happen from here? Is it the importer or the organization will be tracking back through the electricians who’ve used this faulty cable?
Malcolm: In this case, the company that imported the cable will contact the wholesale outlets, who will then contact the electrical contractors, who will subsequently contact the customers to advise them that the wiring in their homes may not be up to standard.
There is no urgency or no hurry – it will take a few years to break down – so we do have time to plan a response, go into those homes, and provide a rectification, which will make sure those homes are safe. The benefit, in this case, is we do have a good pretty precise list of exactly who the cable is sold to, so they can directly track all of the cable back down and have it repaired.
Kevin: Worst-case scenario, in a couple of years’ time when it does break down, what do you anticipate will happen?
Malcolm: With all of these cables, the problem is with the thermal polymers in the cable, which means it loses its durability over time. Some four, five, six years down the track in a hot ceiling, we will find the cable will become rigid and brittle, and if it’s disturbed by rodent or someone crawling through the ceiling, putting a knee on the cable, the insulation will crack and probably separate from the cable, exposing the live wires, which can lead to a fire or even worse, an electric shock for someone in the ceiling.
Kevin: I guess the message here for anyone looking at doing any kind of renovations is that they should be using a qualified electrician.
Malcolm: Absolutely. That extra layer of protection… I’m sure with a plethora of do-it-yourself shows on television and radio now, people get inspired to go and renovate and try to do as much as they can to keep their costs down. When we’re talking about electricity, it’s a very dangerous product, and to make sure it’s installed properly and it’s all tested is one very good reason to use a licensed electrical contractor.
Now with a large volume of imported product and the quality of product being under question, there’s a really strong reason to make sure you only use a licensed electrical contractor to have that part of your job done.
Also, you should consult very early on in the project because there are some fantastic new technologies available, which you may want to incorporate into your renovation to make your place that extra bit special. Again, strongly advise the use of a licensed electrical contractor for any electrical work during your renovation.
Kevin: Your organization, MEA, the Master Electricians of Australia, is that the peak registered body that everyone should be registered with?
Malcolm: Absolutely. In addition to being a membership association, we also run an accreditation program where we externally view electrical contractors’ businesses and issue them accreditation based on their safety, their quality, and their environmental awareness.
If anyone out there is unsure which licensed electrical contractor to use, they can go to our website and find their local fully accredited master electrician who is fully licensed, insured, and has passed an external high-level test to ensure they’re the best quality contractor in the market.
Kevin: Very good, Malcolm. I want to thank you for your time and bringing this to our attention.
Malcolm Richards, CEO for Master Electricians of Australian. Thanks for your time.
Malcolm: Thanks, Kevin.