Monday, July 15, 2024

NSW to extend ANZAC Day trading restrictions

The NSW Government will extend retail trading restrictions to cover all of ANZAC Day to ensure the service of veterans is recognised and people are able to take part in services throughout the day.

Currently, retail traders such as supermarkets are required to stay closed until 1pm under the Retail Trading Act. From next year, the change will see them remain closed until midnight.

The restrictions do not apply to small businesses and business not considered retailers or with exemptions such as markets, cafes, chemists, newsagencies and takeaway restaurants. These businesses will continue to be permitted to open the entire day.

Support from veterans associations

The announcement follows a review into ANZAC Day trading restrictions that commenced last year, with a public consultation period running from September to October.

A majority of submissions supported full-day restrictions including support from veterans, veterans’ organisations and members of the public.

“For Australians, no occasion could be more solemn or significant than ANZAC Day,” said Premier of NSW Chris Minns.

“As of next year, New South Wales will extend our retail trading restrictions across Anzac Day, to make sure our veterans are recognised and free to take part in services throughout the day.

“It might be inconvenient for a few hours, but closing our biggest corporate shops for a single day is a small price to pay for living in a free and open democracy,” he said.

The announcement has been welcomed by RSL NSW President Mick Bainbridge and Minister for Veterans David Harris.

“ANZAC Day is a national day of commemoration for the community to come together and acknowledge the sacrifice of Australian servicemen and women in defence of our nation and our way of life,” Mr Harris said.

“Extending trading restrictions on ANZAC Day ensures that the sanctity of remembrance is given the status it deserves.”

Retailers voice concern

The Australian Retailers Association (ARA) has voiced its concern over the new legislation, noting that while it is an “incredibly significant day” changing the permitted trading hours “will not change the way Australians come together”.

“With morning services and marches across the country, retailers in NSW have consistently honoured ANZAC Day commemorations by remaining closed until 1 pm,” said ARA CEO Paul Zahra.

“The current approach strikes the right balance, allowing respectful commemoration and consumer choice and convenience, without putting more restrictions on retailers at a time when the sector is doing it tough.”

Data from ARA members show consumers in NSW would like the option to shop for food and other essentials on ANZAC Day and did so in higher volumes in the opening hours of trade after 1pm

“Shoppers still require food and supplies on public holidays, which is why we view larger retailers as essential service providers particularly in regional and remote locations,” Mr Zahra said.

He also noted the impact on the earning potential of retail staff.

“Many workers are relying on public holiday rates to make ends meet during this incredibly challenging economic period.

“Any change to the current regulations would restrict consumer choice and reduce the earning potential for retail employees who choose to work on ANZAC Day,” Mr Zahra said.

Variations across states

Given the significance of the day, most Australian states impose ANZAC Day trading restrictions, however these vary across the country.

The changes to ANZAC Day operating hours would also create yet another level of inconsistency between the states and territories, says Mr Zahra.

“Western Australia is the only state that closes on ANZAC Day but all states take their own approach. If NSW were to create another set of unique rules, it will become even more complicated for national retailers to manage,” he said.

“We believe that the existing regulations allowing all stores to open after 1pm strikes the right balance for consumers, retail workers and small business owners,” Mr Zahra said.

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