Wednesday, April 24, 2024

Queensland trading hours to be overhauled

The Palaszczuk government in Queensland will overhaul the state’s retail trading hours, which it says will “create jobs, end confusion and increase choice for consumers, and protect workers”.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk says existing trading hours are confusing for consumers and complex for retailers.

“Under the current trading-hours regulations, you can buy a boat in Queensland on a Sunday, but not a car or a caravan,” she said.

“There are 99 different trading-hour provisions. For Sunday alone, there are 30 different trading zones across Queensland.”

“Once an independent retail shop has more than 20 employees on the shop floor, they fall into the non-exempt shop category. This acts as a brake on employment.”

The key reforms, to be introduced via legislation, include:

  • Sunday and public-holiday trading to be standardised across Queensland, with those areas that currently do not have Sunday trading able to opt in through an application to the Queensland Industrial Relations Commission.
  • Easter Sunday to be an open-trading day across the state (for those areas that have Sunday trading).
  • The number of exempt operations that can trade without restriction to be extended to include butchers, special exhibitions and trade shows.
  • Provision for special trading-hour applications for international events such as the Commonwealth Games.
  • All non-exempt shops must be closed on Good Friday, Anzac Day, Labour Day and Christmas Day.

To facilitate the change, there will be a five-year moratorium on further trading-hour applications to amend the allowable trading hours for non-exempt shops, with a commitment to further review before the end of the moratorium period.

Australian Retailers Association Executive Director Russell Zimmerman says the reforms, although not encompassing all the changes some retailers might desire, would grow many businesses and create jobs in a globally competitive environment.

“Retailers have long bemoaned the inconsistent approach to trading-hour zones in Queensland and the move by the Queensland Government to create consistency should be welcomed,” he said.

The retail industry in Queensland employs 255,000 people, or 11 per cent of all jobs across the state, paying $9.9 billion in wages and accounting for $76 billion in sales.

Independent studies on the relaxation of trading hours have projected an economic benefit to the state of between $200 million (Queensland Competition Authority, 2013) and $253 million (regulatory economist Henry Ergas, 2014).

The National Retailers’ Association estimated substantial deregulation would deliver a $440 million boost to Queensland’s economy and add the equivalent of 3,109 full-time jobs.

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