Shop Trading Hours

05 Apr 2011 questionsarchive

I seek leave to make an explanation before asking the Minister for Industrial Relations a question on shop trading hours.

The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: In September last year the member for Adelaide in another place introduced a bill to recognise Rundle Mall as a tourist precinct, based on the same criteria as have established Jetty Road in Glenelg, and this was voted down last month by this government. I note that in opposing the bill, speakers say (and I quote from their speeches) that the current regime allows retailers more freedom to meet the needs of their customers while protecting workers and their families from fully deregulated trading hours and, further, that the bill would significantly disadvantage retailers and retail workers in suburban shopping centres. My questions are:

1. If the Labor Party agrees with the criteria used to establish Glenelg as a tourist precinct, why did it oppose that bill?
2. How does having one rule for city workers and one rule for suburbs protect workers?
3. When will the government realise that the SDA is out of touch with working South Australians?

The Hon. B.V. FINNIGAN (Minister for Industrial Relations, Minister for State/Local Government Relations, Minister for Gambling) (14:30): I thank the Deputy Leader of the Opposition for her question. To borrow a line from the Life of Brian, 'There's just no pleasing some people.' Here we have the opposition constantly talking about how shop trading hours are too restricted in this state and asking, 'Why didn't we support a bill which would free them up'? We have allowed some exemptions so that trading can take place on a public holiday in the city because of the unusual nature of the circumstances and here they are attacking the decision. What is it that they want? How extraordinary that, at the same time they are criticising the government for not supporting a bill, they are turning around and saying, 'Well, why did you do that? Why did you allow some extra trading?'

This government has a proud record on the issue of shop trading hours. From recollection, we introduced changes in 2003 that allowed Sunday trading and trading to 9pm weeknights—the biggest expansion of trading hours for some time, probably since the 1977 act, but I am not certain about that. The government reviewed the position further when it asked retired judge Alan Moss to review the hours. He found that there was a balanced approached which suited the needs of the community, and so the government is satisfied with the existing shop trading hours regime. One of the reasons we are satisfied with it is that it allows flexibility, and it allows for an ability to adapt and respond to particular circumstances.

This year I allowed trading early one Sunday morning (or it might have been my predecessor who signed off on that) because of cruise ships being in town. There was an instance when Centrepoint Target wanted some extra hours over the Clipsal weekend and an exemption was granted for that. On this occasion, because it is the first time ever that Easter and ANZAC Day have coincided over the same weekend, it did, in my view, provide an opportunity to make an exceptional circumstance decision to allow trading in the city from 11am to 5pm on Easter Tuesday. That is a decision this government has taken in this instance because we recognise that it is an unusual circumstance and that it would have resulted in a three-day closure for most stores across the board.

The government accepts that the act allows flexibility when it is required. That is why at Christmas different arrangements were made so that there were not staggered, stop-start closures. In this instance, we have recognised that it is an unusual circumstance and, while we do not think it is appropriate that all shops be given the opportunity to trade on the Easter Tuesday, we acknowledge that there is some benefit in having the city being able to trade, which will allow it to have a particular emphasis on drawing people in there. I am sure the council is considering things like parking measures and some sort of entertainment and activities so that it will be a successful day for the traders in Rundle Mall. That is what the act provides for—to enable us to adapt to particular circumstances.