Dick Smith: 'Avoid a foreign-made Australia Day'

Exclusive: Australians are being urged to reject foreign-made products this Australia Day and instead buy locally, putting money into the pockets of local bushfire victims and farmers.

Australia's biggest retailers and supermarkets have again been caught out selling merchandise that is made overseas - some designed as far away as Canada.

Business entrepreneur Dick Smith and the nation's Buy from the Bush campaign creator Grace Brennan have implored shoppers to buy items that help our people.

It comes as local retailers are trying to fight back by offering locally made products to support those affected by the tragedies.

News Corp has found Coles is selling items such as boardshorts, flags, straw hats, sunglasses and can coolers made in China.

Woolworths also has similar items that are made in China. Its shoppers can also buy an Aussie Day backpack drink cooler designed by a Canadian company, but made in China.

ALDI is selling Australia Day themed items that are either made in China or Bangladesh.

The Reject Shop has imported Australia Day items made in China.

Kmart has its own range including a plastic novelty hat with "Aussie Aussie Aussie" on it and barbecue aprons made in China. Big W also has items that are made overseas.

Best&Less is selling Australia Day themed baby, kids and mens apparel that are made in China or Bangladesh.

 

 

Bella Nilsson and Adrian Fowler with Australia Day products. Picture: Dylan Robinson
Bella Nilsson and Adrian Fowler with Australia Day products. Picture: Dylan Robinson

 

 

 

Mr Smith told News Corp consumers needed to make an effort by buying Australian made and owned to ensure "money stays here".

"I totally support buying Australian made and owned but most people buy the cheapest, it's part of the reason my company closed down, we couldn't get enough traction," he said.

"It's more important than ever that we make that little extra effort to buy local and look at the label.

Dick Smith pictured outside Aldi. Picture: Tim Hunter.
Dick Smith pictured outside Aldi. Picture: Tim Hunter.

Ms Brennan also told News Corp shoppers could make their purchase more "meaningful".

"People indulge in that stuff at this time of year to show they have national pride … but wouldn't it be such a great show of that if they were supporting local businesses and invest in all the same Australian ideals, just not through an overseas made flag," she said.

She said they had showcased businesses that "play into Australia Day festivities" with local apparel and produce.

"I think people are really connecting with knowing that they've helped an individual business owner in a country town," she said.

"There's improved quality and really unique crafted products being created in the bush … there's certainly a primed appetite for kind of more wholesome support and more meaningful consumption."

 

Buy from the Bush founder Grace Brennan. Picture: Dylan Robinson
Buy from the Bush founder Grace Brennan. Picture: Dylan Robinson

 

Flag World's Managing Director Wayne Gregory, from Victoria, told News Corp he's been making Australian made flags for more than 55 years and can handle large orders - even for a supermarket.

"We recently did a massive order for the NSW Government for the small hand waver flags they hand out for free at Australia Day events," he said.

"We did sell through Bunnings once. But the ones you see in the supermarket from China are the wrong colour, proportion and we've tried numerous times to write to the supermarkets but we don't get anywhere.

"The ones you see are cheaper than what we sell them for, but they are 100 per cent Australian made and that's jobs for Australians."

 

The Australian flag is still made here but many are foreign copies. Picture: Supplied
The Australian flag is still made here but many are foreign copies. Picture: Supplied

 

Best&Less CEO Rod Orrock told News Corp its stores are about "affordability" that their mums expect.

"Unfortunately the manufacturing industry isn't what it used to be in Australia and people are not prepared to pay more money at the till," he said.

"We do design in Australia … our quality control is done here, we're mindful that everything we do is to an Australian standard but we need support to make it overseas."

He said 50 per cent of his shops are in regional areas, and they raise funds for the Drought Angels organisation.

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One of the items of baby clothing Best&Less is selling that is made overseas. Picture: Supplied
One of the items of baby clothing Best&Less is selling that is made overseas. Picture: Supplied

 

He also said he'd be open to speaking to the Buy from the Bush campaign to see if there were ways they could get more Australian made products into their stores.

A Coles spokesman said they have a small range of non-food Australia Day merchandise designed by and purchased from a local Australian owned company, which sources from offshore due to the lack of local manufacturers.

A Woolworths spokesman said: "We always seek to source products in Australia first. In some cases, we work with overseas suppliers where it's not viable to source locally."

An ALDI spokesman said: "We are committed to buying locally unless the desired product is not available at the required quality, price or volume."

News Corp contacted The Reject Shop, Kmart and Big W for comment.



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