NRA’s Trevor Evans elected to federal parliament

TrevorEvansLiberal National Party candidate and most recent CEO of the National Retail Association, Trevor Evans, has been elected to federal parliament as the member for Brisbane.

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While the vote counting continued on Monday afternoon, Inside Retail Weekly spoke with Evans about the pending result of the undecided election.

“I do expect the Coalition are the only ones likely to be able to form stable government going forward,” he said. “Nonetheless, I’m sure everybody in the coalition wishes the victory had of been more comprehensive.”

Evans, who was appointed CEO of the NRA in October 2012 and stepped away from the role earlier this year to contest the seat of Brisbane for the LNP, said he will continue to push for the interests of retailers in his new role.  

“I learnt a lot as the CEO of the National Retail Association and I am really looking forward to the opportunity to continue some of those fights in another place,” Evans said.

“I come from a small business family so the interests of small businesses and retailers have always been top of mind for me. I know how hard it is out there to make ends meat in retail and to create the sorts of jobs and opportunity and prosperity that the nation really critically needs.”  

The NRA expects to make an announcement on who will succeed Evans as CEO of the industry body in the near future.

“In terms of finding a replacement for Trevor, the NRA board has been planning for this contingency for several months,” Ian Winterburn, deputy chairman and acting CEO of the NRA, told Inside Retail Weekly.

“Over that time, we have been able to identify several outstanding candidates. We hope to make an announcement very soon.”

Winterburn said the NRA is “delighted” by the news of Evans’ victory, adding he “understands our industry inside out.”

“Retail will benefit from having someone in the parliament who understands the challenges faced by small businesses and the policy settings needed for retail to succeed,” Winterburn said.

“I am sure he will continue to be a champion for our industry in his new role, as he has been as the CEO of the NRA.”

Paul Greenberg, founder and executive director of industry body NORA, also offered his well wishes to the new MP.

“Regardless of your political standing, Trevor Evans winning the seat of Brisbane is a win for Australian retail,” Greenberg told Inside Retail Weekly.

“When I launched NORA in 2013, Trevor was always available for advice, coffee and a chat. In fact, he was a guest at one of the first NORA board meetings.

“As a gay Australian, Trevor will be another powerful voice for diversity, and I hope will generate advocacy for the work Paul Zahra and others do on the Diversity Council. I commend Trevor Evans on his victory and wish him well in bringing fresh talent and perspective to his constituents and Australian politics.”

Angus Nardi, executive director of the Shopping Centre Council of Australia and Russell Zimmerman, executive director of the Australian Retailers Association (ARA) also congratulated Evans.  

“We congratulate Trevor on his election to parliament, which is a significant achievement,” Nardi told Inside Retail Weekly. “We have a good relationship with Trevor, and the NRA, and we look forward to that continuing.

“Trevor’s strong understanding of issues that impact the retail sector, and the role our sector plays across the community, will be a good addition to the parliament.”

Unfinished business

The possibility of a minority government and a hung parliament is a cause for concern for retailers, argues ARA executive director, Russell Zimmerman.

“We saw that during the Gillard years, [and] we are probably going to see somewhat similar at this stage unfortunately,” Zimmerman said.

Obviously, what you want to see is a very strong, stable government that will build confidence.”

He urged whichever side wins to work with the cross benchers to achieve stability.

“Whatever government gets in – whoever that may be, majority or minority government – they need to make sure they work with the cross benchers, the same with the senate, and ensure that we get good strong stable government which will give confidence back to consumers,” Zimmerman told Inside Retail Weekly.   

Zimmerman highlighted that several issues which affect retailers are outstanding, including changes to the company tax rate outlined in the 2016 budget which has yet to be passed, and the commitment made by the Abbott government to remove the GST-free threshold on low value goods bought from overseas.

“One would be hopeful that the government would continue with that [removing the LVIT] … . It would be extremely disappointing if that did not happen,” Zimmerman said.  

The NRA and ARA have also both raised concerns the task of reinstating the Australian Building and Construction Commission, which impacts retail via the cost of shopping centre construction, may not pass the new senate.

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