Supermarkets build walls, move fridges and freezers to meet deadline to comply with ‘silly’ shop trading laws

Several large supermarkets found in breach of the Shop Trading Hours Act 1977 have erected permanent walls inside their stores, or reconfigured display cases, fridges and freezers, to reduce their floor space to comply with the law.

In total, 11 supermarkets across South Australia had been given a deadline of yesterday to reduce their floor area to 400sqm or less if they wished to continue to operate outside prescribed shop trading hours.

For example, some were opening on public holidays or opening before 11am on a Sunday, after 5pm on weekends or after 9pm on weekdays.

The supermarkets were measured by SafeWork SA inspectors in December and January and had been given three months’ notice to make appropriate changes to their floor area or, alternatively, open only during prescribed hours.

Treasurer Rob Lucas said he had been advised by SafeWork SA that these supermarkets were now compliant under the Act – with 3 of the 11 choosing to keep their doors shut outside prescribed hours.

“This crazy situation is the sole making of Mr Malinauskas and his union boss mates who voted to deny hard-working mum and dad traders the freedom to open their doors and serve their customers whenever they choose,” said Mr Lucas.

“In the past few weeks, we’ve seen supermarkets having to resort to weird and wonderful solutions including bringing in the builders to erect permanent walls inside their stores just to comply with our silly, dog’s breakfast shop trading laws.

“I’m advised others have created all sorts of weird and wonderful configurations, from moving the bread cabinet forward 90 centimetres, relocating fridges and freezers, installing a trolley bay and relocating greeting card stands.

“It’s all a crying shame and in stark contrast to the reformist Marshall Government’s sensible deregulation agenda that would see stores given the freedom to open their doors whenever they choose.

“But the law is the law. And we have no choice but to ensure the law is complied with.”

Mr Lucas said it had not been the government’s intention to prosecute any supermarket for a past breach of the Act.

However, he said he had been advised by SafeWork SA that should a supermarket be found in breach of the law from today, further action would be taken which may include the issuing of a prohibition notice which attracts a maximum penalty of $100,000 in addition to an extra $20,000 for each day a shop is open outside prescribed hours under the Act.

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