Federal Budget delivers new ‘GEMS’ to complement MEPS

By Angela Dorizas

SYDNEY: There were few surprises for the CE industry in the 2008 Federal Budget announcement. The government restated its commitment to fast-tracking the requirements on the energy efficiency of consumer electronics and introduced ‘GEMS’.

In the Budget announcement the government discussed introducing the 10-star energy rating system, extending Minimum Energy Performance Standards (MEPS) and accelerating the 1-watt standard on standby power.

“These measures will improve information for consumers on the energy efficiency and greenhouse impacts of a range of widely used electrical appliances, giving customers better information as well as providing a real incentive for manufacturers and importers to continually improve their products,” said the federal environment minister, Peter Garrett.

The only surprise in the Government’s $14 million commitment to reducing greenhouse gas emissions was the introduction of Greenhouse and Energy Minimum Standards (GEMS) — an unfamiliar term for most CE suppliers.

According to information supplied by the Department of Environment, the new standards will be introduced in 2010 to help retailers and consumers identify “super efficient” appliances. GEMS will complement MEPS by taking into account greenhouse efficiency.

The number of products required to meet MEPS will also be extended to include set top boxes, computers and home entertainment. The government also announced the reviewing of standards every three years.

The Consumer Electronics Suppliers Association (CESA) is generally pleased with the budget announcement.

“We are particularly pleased with the enforcement of testing and compliance,” said CESA technical director, Colin Doyle.

The budget, however, was not welcomed by all within the industry. Tax increases on luxury cars, changes to fringe benefits tax and tax rebates unfairly target middle-income consumers, said Chris Hitchen, managing director of independent comparison shopping site, GetPrice.

“Middle-income Australians are worried that the downturn in economic conditions is likely to affect them and their families even more when coupled with yesterday’s budget changes,” Hitchen said.

“High street sales are likely to moderate as some consumers start to feel the pinch.”

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