Exclusive by Patrick Avenell

SYDNEY: The air conditioning industry is currently reeling after the Queensland Government refused to budge on its position regarding green minimums for units sold in the Sunshine State. AREMA president Bernie Bugdalski is very disappointed by the result, which was handed down in Brisbane last Friday.

“We met with the Minister, we asked the Minister to consider realigning the Queensland controls with the national controls,” said Bugdalski. “The Minister said he was ‘committed to a national approach, but we do things differently here’.”

What especially frustrates Bugdalski is that this ruling contradicts the guidelines presented to whitegoods appliance manufacturers in the National Strategy on Energy Efficiency. It was this publication that clearly outlines a national policy for suppliers to comply with, as evidenced in article 49.1, which reads: “Governments have agreed to adopt national legislation for Minimum Energy Performance Standards to ensure a seamless regulatory system for businesses across the nation”.

With Queensland stepping out of line to impose its own, stricter regulations, the air conditioning supply industry is now anything but seamless.

In what was to be the Government’s only concession to the air conditioning lobby group, Minister Sterling Hinchliffe agreed to “soften” the introduction of the new regulations, though he it reiterated that they must be in effect by the start of the Queensland air conditioning season.

This inability to change the Minister’s mind and realign Queensland with the rest of the country is a big blow to air conditioner suppliers and retailers. Although AREMA could not provide an exact figure, Current.com.au understands this decision will cost suppliers millions of dollars in obsolete stock and logistics expenses.

“We’ve explained the difficulties this will place on companies and retailers and we have the explained lack of a cost/benefit analysis to this approach,” said Bugdalski. “His response was that they had talked to Queenslanders and Queenslanders wanted this.”

For retailers who currently have soon-to-be-unsellable stock, or backorders of non-compliant units, this decision is also bad news. Bugdalski hoped to represent retailers’ best interests in his meeting, knowing how much retail stores – many of them small businesses – were set to lose.

“[Retailers], as I understand, have made a range of representations to the Government: we don’t think they’ve had any better answer than we have.

“They need to look over their stock, and make arrangements with their national retailer. If they don’t have a national organisation, they need to talk to the supplier about cancelling their contract.”