Monday, July 15, 2024

Turning to a new PM for the right effect

The past weeks have seen an upheaval in our political environment and a new prime minister in Malcolm Turnbull.

For retailers, there are many flow-on effects from the change of government, but key to this is the opportunity for the new ministers in cabinet to enact vital reforms to assist our industry.

The introduction of a competition effects test is one of these. Former small business minister Bruce Billson, who did a fantastic job of championing the needs and cause of small business in Australia, was a great supporter of the competition effects test recommended by the Harper review, and it is hoped that incoming Small Business Minister – and Assistant Treasurer – Kelly O’Dwyer will take up the cause with the same determination.

For supermarkets in particular, the effects test is important, as it means acquisitions by the majors will be evaluated on the basis of the effect they will have on business competition, rather than on the intentions of the acquirer. Another issue the ARA would like to see the Turnbull Government address for the good of retailers is the elimination of the low-value import threshold before the slated date of July 2017.

While the ARA is pleased with the decision by state treasurers in August to reduce the current tax-free threshold for products purchased online internationally from $1,000 to zero, it is crucial for retailers that this be enacted sooner, rather than later.

A reduction in the modern award and Sunday penalty rates is also something the ARA has invested a huge amount of time, money and resources in. With our case expected to be heard by Fair Work in the coming weeks, the ARA has engaged senior counsel to assist us in this case.

While the ARA is fighting for a reduction in Sunday penalty rates to time and a half, as opposed to the current double-time rate, the release of the Productivity Commission’s ‘Workplace Relations Framework’ draft report in August provides some optimism that the voice of retailers will be heard.

“With the change in leadership for Australia, the ARA’s hope is that any destabilising undercurrents are now behind us.”

The report has recommended that the General Retail Industry Award for Sunday work should be revised in line with Saturday rates, ie, time and one quarter.

With the change in leadership for Australia, the ARA’s hope is that any destabilising undercurrents are now behind us. Being just two and a half months out from Christmas – the most important sales period for retailers – stability of government is essential.

We look forward to working with the new guard of ministers in cabinet to foster an environment that helps Australian retail businesses grow, invest and employ.

Russell Zimmerman
Executive Director

Mr Zimmerman became a councillor of the ARA, NSW Division, in 1995, and held the position of president of the NSW State Division from 2001 to 2003. From 1997 he held the position of state delegate to the ARA National Council and served as its president from 2003 to 2004.

As National President of the Australian Retailers Association he represented Australian retail at the Federation of Asian Retailers Association in New Zealand, Beijing and Australia.

About ARA

For more than 100 years, the ARA has been the peak industry body in Australia’s $240 billion retail sector, which employs more than 1.2 million people.

As an incorporated employer body under the Fair Work (Registered Organisations) Act 2009, and with a range of member services including business consulting, policy development, advocacy and education, the ARA promotes and protects more than 5,000 independent and national retailers throughout Australia. Visit www.retail.org.au or call 1300 368 041.

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