Retail Referendum Bill to be introduced to Parliament today

A Bill to give South Australians the ultimate power to decide whether they want greater freedom of choice in shop trading will be introduced to State Parliament today.

This comes as the Government announces all suburban shops will be able to trade on the upcoming Queen’s Birthday public holiday, for the first time.

Treasurer Rob Lucas will today introduce to State Parliament the Referendum (Retail Trading) Bill to enable SA electors to cast their vote on extending shop trading hours in an historic referendum to be held on the same day as next year’s state election.

It would be the first referendum held in SA in over 30 years and only the tenth in the state’s history.

National retailers have come out in support of the popular ‘long-awaited’ reform, which would allow all shops – regardless of their floor-size or location – the option of opening any day of the year at any time except Christmas Day, Good Friday, and Anzac Day morning.

“We know the overwhelming majority of South Australians want more flexible, convenient shopping hours, with several polls conducted as recently as Tuesday all finding majority support (a Nine News poll found 86% in favour, The Advertiser’s online poll showed 75% support, a Seven News poll revealed 69% in favour, while there was a 67% ‘yes’ vote in a FIVEaa breakfast poll),” said Mr Lucas.

“We also welcome the huge vote of support from major retailers who are publicly backing this job-creating reform. They are urging the Labor Party and the crossbench not to deny South Australians greater freedom of choice, insisting retailers want extended trading to better cater to consumers’ changing needs.”

Australian Retailers Association CEO Paul Zahra said: “This is the right call, at the right time, to bring South Australia into line with contemporary practice which serves the best interests of the consumer and retailers. Failure to deliver this experience to South Australians will undermine the economic recovery efforts and drive shoppers to pursue other options.”

Shopping Centre Council of Australia executive director Angus Nardi said: “We know that when trading hours are extended, it is met with strong retailer and consumer demand. Extended trading hours have been enacted in a majority of states for many years, which has provided greater levels of employment opportunity and allowed consumers to shop more flexibly in line with the demands of modern lifestyle.”

National Retail Association Chief Executive Dominique Lamb said: “We know that many small retailers benefit when larger retailers can open and trade, particularly in shopping centre environments. Many retailers are frustrated with their rigid schedule made available to them by the current laws, which restricts their flexibility to respond to their customers’ needs.”

Meanwhile, Treasurer Lucas has announced he has granted a special Ministerial exemption to allow all suburban shops to trade on the upcoming Queen’s Birthday public holiday (Monday, June 14) from 11am to 5pm.

This will bring all suburban shops, regardless of their floor-size, into line with shops in the CBD.

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