Christmas Tree Lights
CHRISTMAS TREE LIGHTS
The Hon. D. F. MOPPETT: Is the Minister for Planning and Minister for Energy aware of Christmas festival lighting that has been sold through some Sydney markets that has proved to be faulty and the cause of fires in some of Sydney's western suburbs? What action does the Minister plan to ensure that these faulty lights are withdrawn from the market-place?
The Hon. R. J. WEBSTER: Yesterday I was informed by the Office of Energy that a person had purchased a set of Christmas lights that were part of a wreath
decoration from Paddy's Markets at Flemington. The lights were made in China and designed for use in the United States of America, where the supply voltage is 110 volts. As such, they were fitted with an American plug. When these lights are connected to our 240-volt system through an adaptor, the higher voltage causes the lights to overheat and melt. It was lucky for the residents that they were home, as the incident could have resulted in a serious fire. Clearly the lights should not have been sold in Australia. Because of the poor fire and electric shock record for such lights they are required to be approved and certified as complying with the Australian safety standard AS3152 prior to their sale. It is the responsibility of manufacturers, importers, distributors and retailers to ensure the lights they sell are approved and safe. I have instructed inspectors from the Office of Energy as from tomorrow and over the weekend to visit major markets in Sydney to determine whether any more of these Christmas lighting systems are available for sale. If they find any of these lights they will ensure they are removed from sale immediately. Our inspectors will also be looking at the whole range of Christmas lights that are being sold at present, not only in the markets but in all retail outlets, to ensure they are safe and reliable.
Only 10 fatal accidents have been recorded this year in New South Wales. Though this is still 10 too many, it is the lowest fatality figure in 40 years and one that the public and the State Government are justifiably proud of. On past records the Government would normally expect at least 25 deaths in a year. It is an indication that the State Government is on the right track with its policy of ensuring that a safety switch is installed in every new home built. As a result of the Government's initiative, the safety switch market has taken off. Literally tens of thousands of already established homes have had safety switches installed. It is not always easy for the consumer to distinguish approved products from unapproved products. If anyone has recently purchased Christmas tree lights and is uncertain as to approval and safety, I urge them to contact the Office of Energy. In a further effort to ensure that the public is aware of the dangers associated with Christmas lighting, earlier today I issued an urgent news release to media outlets across New South Wales to alert the citizens of New South Wales to the dangers of these killer Christmas tree lights.