Our Rotary/ANZ business breakfast was thoroughly involved in the world of consumer rights when Sue Chetwin, CEO of Consumer New Zealand addressed a good size attendance at the Karori Park Café on 1 August. Sue has brought strong consumer advocacy and journalism skills to her position as Chief Executive. She joined Consumer in 2007 following two previous outstanding chief executives for the organisation, in David Russell and Dick Smithies. Dick was a member of Karori Rotary for a number of years and was a renowned public speaker and debater. Sue Chetwin previously had more than 25 years in print journalism in New Zealand and made her mark as editor of the Sunday News, Sunday Star Times and the Herald on Sunday returning to Wellington to take up her present role as head of Consumer New Zealand..
Sue said her key role as the public face for consumers is to ensure Consumer New Zealand remains relevant and continues to be an important part of kiwi lives. She got our gathering into action with a quick fire knock-out quiz, asking everyone to stand  and take part in questions on consumer rights, products and guarantees. At the end of this quite exciting icebreaker, one figure remained standing in the room, with all the right answers – guess it had to be a lawyer, our one and only Luke Yiavasis who earned himself a free subscription to Consumer.
Consumer New Zealand is an independent, non-profit organisation dedicated to getting New Zealanders a fairer deal. Established as the Consumer Council in 1959 it was set up to protect and promote the interest of consumers of goods and services. Sue said that when she looked back at one of its first editorials in 1959, the organisation  can fairly say it has continued on the track it was set up to do.  With the strength of her public relations skills and years of engagement in tough decision making faced as a major newspaper editor, she sailed through many examples of issues she put to the meeting that have confronted Consumer New Zealand on things like misleading pricing,  small print and conditions confronting consumers at the retail counter and the high level ethical challenges that have emerged from research on huge ranges of consumer products.
Membership of Consumer New Zealand has grown significantly and it now has over 100,000 members and supporters.
Sue constantly takes the battle to Parliament on behalf of consumers in New Zealand leading submissions on various bills affecting consumer rights on goods and services, an area of work which has taken up a lot of her time and that of her team colleagues and Consumer New Zealand Board. One area of concern as our audience agreed being the cost of consuming electricity.
Questions flowed from the floor around misleading advertising from some very significant service providers in New Zealand, about product testing and maintaining high ethical standards in the exchange between supplier and recipient of products and services.
One of our best meetings to date and very well received by our breakfast supporters.