Trading hours in Queensland: Amended laws pass parliament

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A customer walks through the fruits and vegetables section at a supermarket in Sydney April 27, 2011.
A customer walks through the fruits and vegetables section at a supermarket in Sydney April 27, 2011. Reuters/Daniel Munoz

The National Retail Association has warned that the amended trading hours laws in Queensland would keep it in the "dark ages.” The new laws were passed in the state parliament on Tuesday.

The amended laws will ban at least 21 regions in the state from applications to have huge supermarkets open on Sundays within the next five years. Among the regions affected by the changes are Proserpine, Mount Isa and Ayr.

These regions are outside southeast Queensland and are not defined by a larger regional centre or tourist area. Shopping centres situated in regional areas will also need to open at 8:00 am AEST instead of 7:00 am AEST.

Dominique Lamb, National Retail Association CEO, said they had now been watered down too far. "Where most of the nation has Sunday trade everywhere, Queensland will not, and will continue not to have Sunday trade throughout our State at least for the next five years,” she argued.

Lamb explained that it means Queensland will be kept in the dark ages as the rest of the nation can trade on Sundays. She pointed out that regions are treated differently, and that seems unfair, given that unemployment rates are so high, specifically for youth outside of the city areas. The NRA represents huge department stores and supermarkets.

But for Employment and Industrial Relations minister Grace Grace, the changes were just. "We want to stabilise the trading hours in the state, and we have said that now that they have been determined that those without Sunday trading will remain so during the period of the moratorium," she said, according to The ABC. She added that shoppers would soon have standardised trading across the southeast, regional Queensland and tourist areas, and much more.

The legislation was supported by the Opposition following a lengthy debate in Parliament. It argued that small regional producers wanted the changes.

Jos De Bruin, Master Grocers Australia CEO, believes the amended laws will be beneficial for small businesses. He maintained they are very much for the amendments, specifically the five-year moratorium on any further amendments to trading hour laws.

Bruin said the moratorium will allow family-owned businesses to compete against large national chains. According to him, they have already seen huge proof of sales and job losses in southeast Queensland. Further loss is expected in Stanthorpe and Warwick due to the liberalisation of trading hours in those areas.

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