A vocal opponent of the Marshall Government’s bid to reform SA’s ‘silly, antiquated’ shop trading laws has asked Treasurer Rob Lucas for a permanent Ministerial exemption to open one of his supermarkets outside prescribed trading hours, to avoid having to reduce its floor area to comply with the law.
Treasurer Rob Lucas said Managing Director of Drakes Supermarkets, Roger Drake, had written to him (and SafeWork SA) asking for an exemption under the Shop Trading Hours Act (1977) for West Beach Foodland arguing “special circumstances” should apply because it catered for tourists at the nearby Caravan Park.
The supermarket is one of several across South Australia identified by SafeWork SA inspectors as having a floor area exceeding 400sqm and, therefore, too large to be lawfully trading outside the hours permitted under the Act.
Eleven supermarkets have been given until May 20 to comply with the law and reduce their floor area to 400sqm or less if they wish to continue to open outside prescribed trading hours.
Mr Drake says the supermarket currently trades 7:30am to 10pm, seven days a week. His request would allow him to trade 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, including Good Friday and Christmas Day.
Mr Drake said his West Beach store on Burbridge Road was “the closest supermarket to West Beach Caravan Park and services many tourists who stay at that caravan park all year round and require extended trading hours”.
It is important to note that there is actually a Woolworths store which is just as close to the West Beach Caravan Park.
Mr Drake also argues that not only would tourists benefit from extended trading hours but so too would regular visitors to the area.
He argues that extended Sunday trading hours “are essential to meet the requirements of visitors to the area who engage in sporting, leisure and recreational facilities in the West Beach Parks facilities on Sunday mornings such as boating, going to the beach, golf and the other facilities…”
Mr Lucas said he would consider any application on a case-by-case basis and according to his obligations under the Act, as he had done when Drakes last year sought a temporary exemption for its Wayville Foodland to open outside prescribed shop trading hours, to capitalise on increased crowds at the nearby Royal Adelaide Show.
“However, in relation to this Drake’s application I have been advised that the Shop Trading Hours Act does not give me the power to provide the permanent exemption sought by Mr Drake,” Mr Lucas said.
“As a result, I have written to Mr Drake asking him whether he would reverse his position and now support the Marshall Government’s policy which would allow him to open his supermarket when he wanted to.
“I have also asked Mr Drake whether he is asking the Marshall Government to amend the Shop Trading Hours Act just to allow him to open his West Beach supermarket when he wants to, and if so, whether he believes the nearby Woolworths supermarket should also be allowed to open when it wants to.
“The irony of this situation – once again – is not lost on me or the government.
“For months, Independent Retailers representing Foodland and IGA stores argued the sky was going to fall in over our proposed deregulation of shop trading hours. They would have spent thousands on an advertising campaign against the reforms that would have, ultimately, allowed for the very change Mr Drake is now seeking.
“They wouldn’t need to be writing to me now to seek a Ministerial exemption if Labor and their mates at the Shoppies’ Union had supported our bid to deregulate existing silly, antiquated laws – reforms we know are supported by the majority of South Australians.
“Our view is, and has always been, if traders want to open, consumers want to shop and employees are willing and able to work, why should the law stop them?”