JOANNE MCCARTHY: Shopping trip boils over

“I didn’t end up buying a jug. I hadn’t done enough research … I hadn’t been taking it seriously enough”.SO I thought I’d buy myself a new electric jug to put in the kitchen of the house I’ve just moved into.
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A pretty straightforward exercise, you would have thought.

The old one met its maker when I sold my previous house and moved out in December, and spent the following two months at a friend’s house until I could move into my new one.

Lots of things did not make the cull that comes when you can’t move your belongings into the house you’ve bought, but have to distribute them to five different locations.

It’s amazing what you can dispense with when you’re relying on the kindness of friends and family, and the space in their spare bedrooms, to park your gear.

So the electric jug was punted, although my sons believed it should have gone about a year earlier. It hadn’t cost much in the first place. It was bought in a hurry when an earlier one died. I’d allotted 3.2 minutes of my time for the purchase, which meant price was the only relevant consideration. Plus I’d forgotten my glasses so there really was no point in even trying to compare kilowatts or capacity. The jug was cheap, cheerful and reliable enough, barring the occasional unreliable times when I pressed the start button and absolutely nothing happened.

I soon learnt that if I went about my business it would usually come to life, and it was actually amusing at times to see how long it would take for the thing to get going. Unless, of course, I just wanted a pot of tea without jug capriciousness, in which case it was annoying. I think I tolerated the situation much longer than most, so I tossed it into the bin without remorse.

I set no time limit the other day when I searched for its replacement. A lovely house that I plan to stay in for a long time deserved an elegant new jug, I decided. I pictured myself boiling the jug, filling the teapot – with tea leaves, never bags, of course – and placing it on a tray with a cup and saucer – never a mug – and a biscuit or two.

Then I pictured myself walking to the back deck where I would view the estate – fine, backyard – while reading a good book as birds twittered and soft garden fragrances wafted on the breeze. Lovely.

But I had to buy the jug first.

Now I’m a fan of capitalism. Competition in the market is a wonderful thing for consumers. It ensures – we hope – that we get the best price for goods because manufacturers compete for our business.

But sometimes it just does our heads in.

I compare trying to buy an electric jug the other day with the first time I really took the trouble to distinguish the kind of milk I wanted. Full cream, extra full cream, lo-fat, lite, slim, skim, soy, goat, rice milk, cashew milk, condensed, no-protein, super-vitamin, etc, etc, etc, and that was even before I reached the no-name milk section of supermarket specials.

Jugs don’t just boil water any more.

They come with flashing lights and swirling bars. They’re see-through, turbo-charged or jet-fast. But most of all, they come with piles of buttons.

There’s the button you press if you want green tea. There’s other buttons for chai, oolong, coffee and white tea, and eventually I found a button to get water to boiling point. I think.

I didn’t end up buying a jug. Even though I hadn’t allotted time for the task, I also hadn’t done enough research to safely commit money to a purchase that, clearly, Ihadn’t been taking seriously enough.

That kind of thing has been happening to me recently. Given too many choices, I take fright and do nothing.

Take my experiences in my friend’s house. She kindly allowed me to stay in it while she was overseas, and I was between homes. It is a lovely house, which was great, but also a problem.

She showed me how to use its many features – too many of which came with their own remotes. I’m not good with remotes. All those buttons. And because it was my friend’s house and it was lovely and I didn’t want to break anything, I didn’t use the majority of its many features. The airconditioner looked daunting. The dishwasher flashed too many messages and intimidated the hell out of me. I forced myself to negotiate the command module of the washing machine because, frankly, six weeks of wearing unwashed clothes during a humid summer with no airconditioning did not bear thinking about.

I tried to work through the three remotes associated with the TV/DVD/CD/other- things-with-wires entertainment centre, but gave up and phoned my youngest son who sighed when I explained the situation, and drove round to help.

‘‘It’s very simple,’’ he said, in the patronising way that sons in their 20s adopt with their middle-aged mothers when their middle-aged mothers can’t work out how to get a DVD to appear on a screen.

‘‘You press this, and then this, and then that thing comes up, and then you simply take the other remote and press this, this and this, and then you do a pirouette and press that final red button – not the green one – and voila, the DVD appears, although why you would want to watch that, I do not know,’’ said my son, who was a dear little boy for years until he grew very tall and started patting me on the head.

OUR SAY: When councillors behave badly to the tune of $58,000

MEMBERS of sporting clubs and charities who missed out on donations from Orange City Council’s community grants fund this year must be fuming at the price of enforcing an acceptable standard of behaviour from councillors.
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The $58,000 it cost to investigate and adjudicate councillor Reg Kidd’s breach of the code of conduct last year would buy a great deal of sporting equipment or top up the fundraising efforts of several charities.

And ratepayers must be wondering whether a cheaper, faster way to adjudicate on breaches can’t be found.

The public is yet to discover whether councillor Kidd will accept the umpire’s decision that his conduct towards one of the city’s staff was unbecoming a councillor, but they will know next week.

If Cr Kidd does not agree to publicly apologise for the breach at the next council meeting the matter will probably be kicked upstairs to the Department of Local Governmentfor consideration, but residents will also be concerned about the future.

Most people will concede they say things at times they later regret and councillors are no different. Aside from the question of how to deal with Cr Kidd, there is the question of future breaches, by him or anyone else.

Councils could do a lot worse than borrow from the court system, where an early guilty plea is seen as an indicator of genuine remorse and a clean record often earns a caution for the first offence.

A speedy and heartfelt apology from a first offender in the council chamber might bring the matter to a swift and inexpensive conclusion.

That is how it can work now but, as the Cr Kidd episode illustrates, under the current system a long drawn-out investigation can result in a huge financial penalty for ratepayers but not for the person found to have breached the code of conduct.

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Journey into the lover’s world

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LOVE (and sex) are no strangers to art, but Adrian Lockhart’s exhibition Book marks at Maitland Regional Art Gallery was a reminder of how perpetual these themes remain. Large expressive and sensual line drawings are the main course, abstraction a loose guise that never completely extinguishes the body. More overtly, large faces inhabit much of the gallery with an insistent presence.

However, first impressions can be deceptive, and the entre – or sweet – that invites real time are modestly scaled works drawn from the bittersweet intensity of personal relationships, aka creative inspiration. Small books of poetry illustrated by Lockhart are presented alongside his original drawings, monotypes and woodblocks. These offer an experience similar to that of a reading room, inviting an intimate journey into the lover’s world. But before I represent Lockhart as singular in focus, his drawings in second-hand books, from classic literature to auction house catalogues, suggest an inventive artist with a fine sense of play.

– SPIN is the perfect title for Linda Greedy’s fairground paintings in Maitland’s Art Factory, and the appeal is to all ages as she evokes a feeling of nostalgia and a dizzying sense of dislocation.

Neon lights and whacky characters cavort across the canvas in oily twilight. Greedy has proved herself adept at the nocturne, and her compositional style makes her images, especially the smaller ones, evocative and mysterious. More documentary in style, Simone Sheridan hones in on her subjects in The Bus Shelter Project. The poignant, candid black and white portraits taken at a Hunter Street bus stop to raise awareness of homelessness present a microcosm of the local boho-subculture, most notably her image of the late artist Peter Speight with Ahn Wells, whose new venture, Gallery 139 in Beaumont Street, will be reviewed in coming weeks.

– SUSAN Myerson’s white porcelain vases with coralline edges distil The Bigger Picture at Back to Back galleries, a showcase of seven female artists’ work.

Sharon Taylor is at the top of her game with earthy totemic forms that reach skyward, offsetting the painters’ luminous colour which include Shelagh Lummis’ meditations on trees and Bev Leggett Simmons’ abstracted landscapes.

All of the work expresses a holistic responses to nature and collectively delivers a well balanced exhibition.

– COOKS Hill was abuzz during my visit to Phil Stallard’s latest exhibition, Abstract Impressions. Archetypal symbols – circles, grids and hearts, text and numbers, vie with brilliant colour and strong graphic marks and geometry. Hard-edge and the painterly are thrown together so that composition and colour compete, but what is one viewer’s brash is another’s bravura: these are undeniably bold, confident paintings that shout out loudly rather than sneaking up on you.

– OF a very different nature, but also addressing relationships between colour and form head on, are Madeleine Cruise’s Candy paintings at NANA Contemporary in the Hunter Street Emporium.

Finishing today, her visceral and voluptuous abstractions are rich in suggestions of the body, interior emotions and physical space, but the real action is in the juicy palette and the paint itself: this is eye candy, but it runs deep. In the Workroom, Maggie Hensel’s small sculptures beg to be touched, while photomedia lecturer Deb Mansfield’s electrifying textile landscape begs to be remembered, without fail. More developmental, The Project Space hosts emerging artists such as Kerri Smith whose interest in urban environments inform both paintings and prints.

– FOR her second show at Timeless Textiles, internationally acclaimed artist Nicola Henley’s Shorelines is a welcome encounter with the rich birdlife and coastal heath of Laurieton’s tidal environment, the site of her 2014 artist residency.

Using multiple techniques that include dying, stencilling and silk embroidery, Henley creates opulent frescoes that echo the panoramic Italian tradition of wall painting and the vertical Oriental scroll. A single work from her previous exhibition evokes all the silvery greys of her Irish homeland, illustrating just how well Henley has captured the shimmer of the aquatic landscape and the endless blues, green and gold of the Australian coast.

Coenraad rewarded with MVP for Hawks

ForwardTim Coenraad captured the Wollongong Hawks Most Valuable Player award at the club’s end of season dinner on Thursday night.
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Wollongong Hawks forward Tim Coenraad celebrates with wife Nelly after capturing the club’s MVP award for 2014-15.

Coenraad appeared in 26 of the team’s 28 regular-season games, averaging 10.7 points, 5.5 rebounds and 1.7 assists. He made 47.1 per cent of his shots, 40 per cent of his three-pointers and a career-high 88 per cent of his free throws.

The 29-year-old was also acknowledged by Hawks fans for his consistent efforts in 2014-15 by claiming the Members’ MVP trophy.

After playing behind dual Olympian Glen Saville in his first four years with the Hawks, Coenraad has established himself as one of the team cornerstones over the past two seasons.

Wollongong coach Gordie McLeod believes Coenraad deserves all the credit for his growth as a player.

“This is something that hasn’t happened by chance, because ever since Timmy’s been at the club he’s worked his absolute tail off,” McLeod said.

“He had a great mentor [Saville].

“He had someone he really had to battle to get to where he is now. He was against that every day.

“The results Timmy has got this year is a reflection of the dedication and hard work he’s put in over that whole time.

“The one thing with Tim is that he’s leaving no stone unturned in trying to be the best professional he can be, in all things he does.

“It’s great to see him get the results and the reward of having a really consistent year.”

Hawks captain Oscar Forman won the Players’ Player award, while long-serving strapper Phil Driscoll was named Club Person of the Year.

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On the Pulse

On air support
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They say some great things can happen on radio, and STA FM is doing just that. The station launched ‘Radiothon’, a fundraising broadcast with the birds this morning. This 24-hour event is raising money through song requests, donations and a slam-bang auction all day tomorrow on the steps of Me and Mr Jones (M&MJ). All funds raised will be split 50/50 between the Inverell Operation Operating Room and the Inverell Prostate Support Group.

All items and gift vouchers for the auction have been donated from business houses across town, and can be seen in the window of the vacant shop beside Sapphire City Meats on Byron. Bidders can stop in to the STA FM table in front of M&MJ throughout the day for their chances.

Volunteers are also having a breakfast barbecue today and tomorrow from 8am with a tasty sausage sizzle. Tomorrow, local songbird Little Phoenix will perform requests to serenade breakfasters. This is a great chance to hear your favourite song, grab a bite to eat, and it all goes to two terrific causes to support our community.

Hang up on scams

Scammers trying to impersonate officers from the NSW Department of Finance have offered the unwary $7000, in attempts to gain personal information, including dates of birth.

Office of Finance and service chief executive officer Simon Smith has warned the public to hang up on scam calls and report incidents to Scamwatch on 1300 795 995.

“The NSW Office of State Revenue has received reports from concerned consumers about scammers who claim the fictitious finance department is a state and federal agency,” Mr Smith said.

“No government finance department will cold call offering money and asking for your personal details. The scammers offer to repay the money via cheque or payment into a bank account.”

“Scammers will try anything to take your money and identity, so if in doubt look up the contact number for any alleged government department and call them to see if you are in fact dealing with the real department. Don’t call any number a cold caller gives you, as that will be answered by another scammer.”

Mr Smith said scammers rely on you not checking out their legitimacy, and people should never give out their bank details or address over the phone to cold callers.

Not enough work

When On the Pulse gets bored, there’s nothing like a good dose of statistics from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) to clear out the cobwebs and sharpen the senses. So when their latest report on underemployment leapt out and startled the blazes out of On the Pulse it decided to learn all about it.

Apparently, underemployment is a key measure of spare capacity in the labour market; workers who would like a second job or more hours at their present job, in other words, and for anyone caught in this position it must be demoralising.

In the late-1970s and 1980s, the underemployment rate was a lot lower than the unemployment rate (about half as many underemployed people as unemployed people), today the number underemployed is significantly higher than the unemployed.

On the Pulse thought there could be no way it was underemployed, underappreciated and underpaid, yes, but definitely not underemployed.

However, On the Pulse then thought about how much some extra time each day to do the massive amount of work would help, and for a long while thought perhaps it was on the underemployed list after all.

Then it occurred to On the Pulse that it may even be ‘overemployed’. Was there even a category for that?

Crikey, things can get complicated when you think about them too much; might be time to get back to work. We get pretty busy around here, you know.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

Head shave aims to raise $2000

AT 11am on March 14 at Envious Hair, 11-year-old Max McFarlane will lose his hair as part of this year’s World’s Greatest Shave, which raises money for the Leukemia Foundation and will hopefully see Max raise $2000.
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FUNDRAISING: Max McFarlane hopes to raise $2000 before having his head shaved.

He has already raised about $800. Max said he wanted to participate in this year’s shave because so many people died from leukaemia and cancer each day.

“And I’m going to have to get a haircut some time, so I thought this would be a very good idea,” Max said. “I think it will be a very good step in finding a cure for it. So far I’ve got 40 per cent of (the funds).”

Max’s mother Ashley agreed her son was ‘on the ball’ with his fundraising.

“I only had to register him, that’s all” Ashley said.

“He’s been wanting to do it since last year, but he missed it last year. So he’s been waiting and waiting, and growing his hair since Christmas.

“He makes us very proud.”

Anyone who would like to support Max by making a donation to The Leukaemia Foundation and the World’s Greatest Shave they can go online to:

If anyone would like to join Max in shaving or colouring their hair, they can contact Ashley on 0427 227 660.

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Head of the Lake: Ballarat Clarendon College in profile

Head of the Lake: Ballarat Clarendon College in profile Breaking the drought: Cody Grant, Robert Corden-McKinley, Henry Woodward, Samuel Hayden and Benjamin Dowling.
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Good record: Georgie Jackson, Lucy Joyce, Julia Kittelty, Alice Coltman and Eliza Millen. PICTURES: ADAM TRAFFORD

TweetFacebookGirls’ squad:GEORGIE JACKSON


Stepping up to the firsts can be a daunting task, but for Jackson it comes with the familiarity of rowing with two other crew members from last year.

Jackson was victorious in the year 10 division one girls alongside Julia Kittetly and Alice Coltman last year.



The only member of the crew that did not row together last year. Joyce took out the seconds last year and now it is her time to defend the title as firsts captain.

“I’ve fitted in well, the girls have all been welcoming,” she said.



Like her fellow crew members, tasted victory in the lower divisions last year. Now it is time to step up and make it count in the main race.

“It’s both nerves and excitement at this time but we just have to overcome it and row to our best,” she said.



Cotlman believes having three crew members sticking together from last year can only serve as an advantage for College.

“We all know each other really well which I think helps,” she said. “It’s really exciting, it’s the most exciting week of the year.”



Millen describes herself as the bossiest and most chatty member of the crew – exactly what a cox should be.

“It’s all about trying to motivate the girls and making sure you are the loudest voice on the water,” she said.

Boys’ squad:CODY GRANT


In his first year rowing at Clarendon, Grant said he took up the sport after witnessing the atmosphere at Lake Wendouree last year.

Formerly a single sculler from Geelong, he is relishing the opportunity to row in a team with some of his closest friends.



Rowing is in Corden-McKinley’s blood. His father rowed in College’s firsts in 1968 and 1969 and went on to become national champion.

His mother rowed for Victoria. “I always wanted to follow in their footsteps,” he said.



Even though it is his first year in the firsts crew, Woodward still uses previous defeats in lower divisions as motivation.

“We’ve put in so much work this year,” he said. “I use other races that we haven’t won as motivation, definitely.”



The only returning member from last year’s crew, Hayden this year takes on the responsibility of captaining the boat.

“We don’t want it to be the case like last year where we just go down so we have worked that much harder,” he said.



Dowling last year watched his sister, Ellie, take out the girls’ title as cox. Now he feels it is his time to claim some glory.

“I’m just ready to get out there on the day and do everything I can to help the boys over the line,” he said.

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Bulls v Sharks

Highlanders v RedsForce v HurricanesCheetahs v BluesChiefs v CrusadersRebels v BrumbiesLions v Stormers
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Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria, Sunday 2.05am (AEST) Last meeting: Round 6 2014 – Bulls 23-19, Loftus Versfeld StadiumHead-to-head:  Played 22 Bulls 12 Sharks 9 drawn 1In Pretoria:  Played 11 Bulls 6 Sharks 4 drawn 1Referee:  Jaco van Heerden (RSA)TV: Live, FoxSports 502Ladbrokes: Bulls $1.91, Sharks $1.91 BetEasy: Bulls $1.95, Sharks $1.85

AAP writes: The Sharks got their season rolling last week with a win over the Lions, while the Bulls should’ve done likewise, but inexplicably failed to properly ground a late match-winning try. They’ll be extremely keen to ensure they don’t start their season with three straight losses at Loftus Versfeld. The last time they lost two in a row at Loftus was in 2008, and you’d have to go as far back as 2002 to find a time when they lost three in a row. And the bad news for them is that there is few, if any, teams with a better record than the Sharks in Pretoria.


SHARKS: SP Marais, Odwa Ndungane, Waylon Murray, Andre Esterhuizen, Lwazi Mvovo, Patrick Lambie. Cobus Reinaach, Ryan Kankowski, Renaldo Bothma, Marcell Coetzee, Pieter-Steph du Toit, Lubabalo Mtyanda, Jannie du Plessis, Bismarck du Plessis, Dale Chadwick. Reserves: Kyle Cooper, Thomas du Toit, Lourens Adriaanse, Marco Wentzel, Jean Deysek, Conrad Hoffmann, Fred Zeilinga/Lionel Cronje, Jack Wilson

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NSW state election 2015: Greens environment policy would halt Whitehaven mine, shooting in national parks

Clear-felling of the Leard Forest. Photo: Dean Sewell
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Whitehaven’s Maules Creek Mine in the Leard State Forest. Photo: Dean Sewell

Leard forest is a ‘key hot spot for national biodiversity’ says NSW Greens MP Mehreen Faruqi. Photo: Ben Rushton

Clear-felling of the Leard Forest. Photo: Dean Sewell

Clear-felling of the Leard Forest. Photo: Dean Sewell

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The Greens would immediately halt clearing of the Leard State Forest – a key battleground for open-cut coal mines – and restore Environment as a standalone department.

The party’s environment policies also include restoring the ban on shooting by amateurs in national parks and re-allocating $19 million funds to combating invasive species. Also on the Greens’ election is restoring full protection to the state’s marine sanctuaries.

“The Leard State Forest is a key hot spot for national biodiversity with old-growth forests, dozens of threatened species and critically endangered ecological communities,” said Mehreen Faruqi, the Greens spokeswoman for the environment, and a candidate for the Legislative Council. “It is not too late to protect them for future generations but we must act now.”

Whitehaven Coal resumed clearing land at its Maules Creek mine in the Leard State Forest this month despite regular efforts by protesters to halt operations.

Andy Paine, a spokesman for the Leard Forest Alliance, welcomed the Greens’ position, noting that Whitehaven had cleared about one-quarter of the 8000 hectares of woodlands it planned to remove. “There’s potential to stop a lot clearing now,” he said.

Dr Faruqi said it was the Greens’ position to phase out coal mines, to be replaced with 100 per cent renewable energy, but the Maules Creek mine was a high priority: “There needs to be an independent process of reviewing and investigating how a mine with such huge ecological impacts was approved in the first place.”

Fairfax Media sought comment from Whitehaven, whose mine has the backing of the Coalition and Labor.

The Greens would legislate to ensure there was no compensation payable to the fossil fuel exploration and mining industry. “Investors have been aware of the huge environmental risks of mining coal and coal seam gas and the potential impact of addressing climate change on their industry for many decades,” Dr Faruqi said.

The party would also halt Santos’s plans for coal seam gas exploration in the Pilliga state forest.

Out of the top 100 achievements recently listed by the Baird government, only three environmental issues made the rankings, she said, adding “the number of environmental failures of the government, however, would fill a whole book”.

Environment in the Baird government is a junior ministry to Planning, a subordinate role that the Greens would reverse to put environmental protection, climate change and ecologically sustainable development “front and centre” in government decision-making, Dr Faruqi said.

“If the Baird-O’Farrell government can establish a standalone [Environment Protection Authority] due to unacceptable pollution incidents, then why not a stronger standalone national parks defender, given the growing pressures from hunters, loggers and graziers to access these precious areas?” said Keith Muir of the Colong Foundation.

The Greens would also make transparent the process of identifying high-conservation areas for priority protection in the national park estates.

One priority would be to ensure protection of the Gardens of Stone Stage 2 region of the Blue Mountains near Lithgow. The area is known for its hidden canyons and spectacular stone formations, and has been threatened by coal-mine development.

Kate Smolski, chief executive of the Nature Conservation Council, said that while the Greens had set the benchmark for nature conservation, the election platform “does not respond fully to all the threats nature faces in NSW”.

“What we need is a comprehensive environmental program that includes reform of the planning and mining approvals system, and strong policies to protect water and wildlife,” Ms Smolski said.

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Faulty electrical cabling in 40,000 homes may start failing next year

Only a tiny fraction of potentially dangerous electrical cabling fitted in households across Australia has been replaced in the six months since a national recall was announced.
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The cabling does not comply with ageing requirements because it has poor quality plastic coating that could become prematurely brittle if exposed to heat, potentially causing electric shock or sparking a fire. Although, there have not yet been any reports of the cables failing, experts say safety problems may start to arise from 2016.

The latest figures from the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission reveal Infinity and Olsent-branded cabling has been removed from fewer than 150 of the estimated 40,000 affected homes and businesses. And 16 of the 27 companies that sold the Chinese-made cabling between May 2010 and August 2013 have not started replacing the faulty wiring.

“It’s terrible. We are really concerned about the progress,” the ACCC’s deputy chair, Delia Rickard, said. “But we do believe it’s about to ramp up. We’ve been contacting the suppliers that put the recall in place every month and pushing them.”

Ms Rickard said consumers also had a vital role to play in identifying whether the cabling was used at their property, and urged them to contact their electrician or building contractor.

“It’s really important we get the message to consumers because we know that a whole lot of electricians who used it have just got no idea where they put it,” she said.

Just 0.4 per cent of the 4000 kilometres of defective cabling had been replaced by the end of January after two recalls were announced last year when testing found the product failed to meet safety standards.

The cables were imported by Infinity Cable Co, which has gone into liquidation, and sold to major hardware stores and smaller suppliers in all states and territories except the Northern Territory.

It was used for electrical wiring in new and old homes, air-conditioning units and power points and was fitted in an estimated 40,000 buildings nationwide. In Victoria, it was sold in 2012 and 2013 through Masters, Home Timber and Hardware, Plants Plus, Thrifty-Link Hardware, Mitre 10, Go Electrical and six smaller retailers.

Home and business owners who recently had wiring installed at their property are urged to contact their builder or a licensed electrical contractor to arrange an inspection to confirm if Infinity cabling was used. If Infinity cable was supplied, the cable supplier will arrange for an inspection and remediation free of charge. Infinity cabling located in roof spaces, under flooring or close to a heat source will need to be replaced.

The ACCC, which is co-ordinating the national response in conjunction with state regulators,  will release updated figures next month. The Infinity Cable regulatory taskforce of electrical, building and consumer law regulators will then meet and discuss progress to date and the implications of that progress when the data has been gathered.

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