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Australia Day 2014: Retailers' patriotic products made in Asia

Date

Allison Jeffares, Tara Waniganayaka

Surprised: Richard and Tania Booker with their children (from left) Amalia, 2, Tamika, 7, Ashton, 5, and India-Rose, 3.

Surprised: Richard and Tania Booker with their children (from left) Amalia, 2, Tamika, 7, Ashton, 5, and India-Rose, 3. Photo: Steve Lunam

Supermarkets have been slammed for selling Australia Day products that are made in China, Thailand and Taiwan.

Businessman Dick Smith has called on Woolworths, Coles and Aldi to stock locally made products, while the clothing workers' union has accused the supermarkets of ''cashing in'' on the patriotism of ordinary Australians.

Despite the brands being high-profile partners of the ''Australian Made'' campaign, Fairfax Media was unable to find a single Australian-made product among their Australia Day flags, T-shirts and other products.

Mr Smith said supermarkets would make more money by marketing Australia Day products as Australian-made.

''They think that people just want the cheapest products … but there's certainly a really good market for people who want to support Australia,'' he said.

Textile Clothing and Footwear Union of Australia national secretary Michele O'Neil said stocking imported Australia Day products was a disgrace.

''It is a complete contradiction and hypocrisy to sell products supporting Australia Day that aren't made here in Australia,'' she said.

''If you really want to support Australia, then part of that is supporting Australian jobs and Australian industry.''

Ms O'Neil said she hoped people would check the label and decide not to purchase the imported goods.

''More Australians are starting to think about the labour behind the label,'' she said.

Tania Booker, 34, of Loftus, was surprised to discover Australia Day products were made overseas.

''It was quite disgusting to hear that,'' she said.

She would prefer to pay a bit more for products made in Australia.

Australian Made chief executive Ian Harrison said the lack of Australian-made merchandise detracted from the celebrations.

''On Australia Day, there is an outpouring of pride and emotion,'' he said. ''We would hope that Australians would be able to look for genuine Aussie products.''

However, he said it was understandable that consumers prioritised price when it came to disposable and quick-use items and he defended the supermarket chains for their commitment to Australian-made products.

''If you're buying any product for which quality and warranties are important, Australian products offer good value,'' he said. ''But when you're waving around something on January 26 and it'll be in the bin on Monday morning, then, of course, you'll go for something cheap. It's just a low-cost purchase.''

Kirstie McClean, a lecturer in consumer behaviour at Southern Cross University, said people who bought Australia Day products would be patriotic and would prefer products made in Australia. She said retailers had to make it clear if products were Australian-made, otherwise consumers would make their decisions based on price.

Aldi and Coles said they sourced products from Australia wherever possible. Coles communication manager Julia Balderstone said Australia Day was celebrated across all categories of food and merchandise. Woolworths had not responded by publication deadline.

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