Queensland retail outlets will still have to remain closed even if Easter Sunday becomes a public holiday unless the Trading Act is changed, says the National Retail Association.
The association’s boss Dominique Lamb says the Palaszczuk government needs to amend the Trading Act, which prevents medium to large retail outlets opening on Easter Sunday across most of the state.
The state government has announced it plans to introduce legislation to make Easter Sunday a public holiday.
Under the Trading Act, Easter Sunday is deemed the same as Christmas Day, Anzac Day and Labor Day, as a “closed day”.
Trading is not permitted on Easter Sunday although independent food and grocery shops, with fewer than 20 employees, and some outlets in certain parts of the state are exempt.
“The NRA is open to the idea of allowing retailers across Queensland having the choice to open their doors on Easter Sunday, however this must be balanced by reform to retail trading hours, to ensure small businesses are not adversely impacted,” Lamb said.
According to Lamb, unless Easter Sunday is removed from the “closed day” list, only restaurateurs will benefit because they’ll be able to impose a public holiday surcharge.
She said talk of penalty rates hurting retail outlets was premature because businesses are not allowed to open.
“Retailers are often unable to cater to their customers, simply because the current legal framework hasn’t caught up with changing customer needs,” she said.
“Before we even get to the point of penalty rates we need to look at Trading Act hours across the state because … there are going to have to be changes before we even know if businesses are allowed to trade,” Lamb told AAP.
“If the Trading Act is amended so Easter Sunday is not defined as a closed day, retailers will be able to open their doors.”
The government has announced it will establish a reference group, headed by former Speaker John Mickel, to iron out anomalies and modernise legislation.
One of the issues under consideration will be amending the Trading Act.
“We think this is a really good opportunity to sit down and talk about the future of retail trading hoursin Queensland and the potential economic growth we could see,” Industrial Relations Minister Grace Grace said.
Grace insisted the process would allow all views to be ventilated, amid suggestions smaller businesses could suffer if Coles and Woolworths are allowed to trade for longer.
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