House debates

Wednesday, 2 December 2015

Constituency Statements

Recall of Samsung Washing Machines

10:43 am

Photo of Michelle RowlandMichelle Rowland (Greenway, Australian Labor Party, Shadow Assistant Minister for Communications) Share this | | Hansard source

I rise again today to highlight ongoing problems associated with the recall of certain Samsung washing machines. Since I first raised this issue in this place on 12 August I have been appalled to learn that over 144,000 Australian families are still at risk of what can only be described as, and has been described as, a bungled recall process. Despite a recall process which began over two years ago, alarmingly over 30 per cent of all faulty Samsung washing machines remain in Australian homes. Serious questions have been raised over the plastic bag and tape remedy approved by the New South Wales government.

Given what they believe to be the failure of the New South Wales government to identify the safety issues relating to the recall, a group of over 2,000 community members who have all been affected by this issue and who are compassionately assisting one another and seeking to draw on information that the community can use, took it upon themselves to raise funds to commission an independent report on the electrical grade plastic bag through electrical compliance consultancy QEC Global. The report was undertaken by Mr Marty Denham, a member of the Queensland Association of Fire Investigators and a member of the electrical standards committee.

In his report, Mr Denham stated that 'after reviewing the supplied documents, it is my opinion that the rework procedure is deficient'. He went on to note that the 'plastic bag and tape' fix applied to at least 63,300 faulty Samsung washing machines 'does not mitigate the ingress of moisture into the compartment of the washing machine containing the electrical connectors' and that 'the bag would not mitigate combustion from an electrical tracking fault at the electrical connectors'.

It is important to note as well that, according to an article in The Sydney Morning Herald:

The NSW Fire and Rescue spokeswoman said they had responded to 42 fires involving the machines since the start of the recall. Fairfax Media understands at least two involved already repaired machines.

This includes the Hudson family in Newcastle, who had their machine repaired by this New South Wales government approved rework only three weeks before it caused a fire that led to a total loss of $270,000 in August.

It is nothing short of miraculous that there has been no direct loss of life because of these fires. However, the untold devastation that these disasters leave in their wake is truly heartbreaking. It includes the destruction of cherished family possessions and children being taken to hospital suffering from the effects of smoke inhalation. Yet the New South Wales government stands by the 'plastic bag and tape' fix. Such tragedies are bad enough.

We in this place have an obligation to the citizens of Australia, to consumers. They should have a right to put on a load of washing and not have their house burn down. I call on the New South Wales government to act. I am grateful to the former Minister for Small Business, Mr Billson, for taking an interest in this matter as well.