By Chris Nicholls

SYDNEY: Winton Sustainable Research Strategies (WSRS) is conducting two focus groups in Sydney and Melbourne to get retailers’ responses to the proposed changes to the six-star energy rating system, as put forward by Environment Minister Peter Garrett last week.

The focus group discussions will be on behalf of the Commonwealth Government to obtain feedback one the proposed move from the six-star energy rating label to a 10-star label.

WSRS managing director Les Winton said he had already contacted manufacturers as part of the submissions process, to discuss their views on the regulatory changes.

“We’re doing it over a period of a few months, but that’s the first round of the [talks]. We’re really wanting to include all interests of the manufacturers and all interests of the retailers,” he said.

While Winton is conducting seminars for retailers, methods of submission from various groups would be tailored to meet the groups’ needs, he said, whether it be an interview or paper submissions or group meetings.

“It’s important to get their [manufacturer or retailer] views, and if that’s the way they want to do it, well then, you have to tailor it,” he said.

However, while he gave a timeline of a few months for the submission, Winton said he could not give a timetable for when the submissions would come in.

“The six-star label is a very successful label. It’s got incredible recognition, like Coca-Cola, most people know about it. A lot of people use it in their decision. They mightn’t buy the highest rating, but they’ll certainly toss out the very bottom ones.

“They’ll often say ‘Well, I can’t really afford the six-star’, or ‘It’s got the wrong features, but the next best is a five star or the four star and I’ll get that one’,” he said.

He said the six star system was very easy to recognise, but a ten-star system “needed a lot of research.”

“It’s a very important decision to make,” he said, warning the debate was necessary to avoid any potential problems,

Winton said discussions usually lasted one to one-and-a-half hours. One group will be in Melbourne at 6pm on Wednesday 5 March, while the other is in Sydney at 6pm on Thursday 6 March. The company needs up to 10 retailers in each city.

If readers would like to attend, please email Les at to obtain location and other details.