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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1996 Week 9 Hansard (27 August) . . Page.. 2656 ..

Retail Trading Hours

MR HUMPHRIES (Attorney-General) (5.39), in reply: If Mrs Carnell were exposed every time Mr Berry rose in his place to say that Mrs Carnell must be exposed, she would either have died of hypothermia or have been arrested a long time ago for indecent exposure.

Mr Speaker, I want to speak of something a little bit more serious, and that is the problem that some interstate chains of supermarkets in the ACT are creating by misleading their customers about the effect of legislation passed by the Assembly in June. Mr Speaker, whatever one might say about the legislation, the fact is that it has now been passed, and I would have thought that it would have been in the interests of members of the retail community to make clear to their customers what the new state of affairs will be. But, in fact, what we have going on is a deliberate misleading of the customers, particularly of Coles and Woolworths supermarkets at Belconnen, in an effort to maximise the disruption caused with the implementation of the new shopping hours changes at their supermarkets on 9 September 1996.

I will record for the record that Coles has signs up saying "open 24 hours until further notice" and Woolworths has signs up saying "open from 7 am till midnight every day". Mr Speaker, those signs, I understand, have only recently been installed in the stores. It is clear that the supermarkets will be required to close earlier than they do right now. They were told on 15 August that they would be required to effect the new, very clear, changes to the trading hours from 9 September. Despite that advice of 12 days ago, those supermarkets have engaged in a rather shabby deception of their customers by pretending that nothing is going to change. If I were a supermarket proprietor, I would want to tell my customers at the first available opportunity what was going to happen, not mislead them and cause the maximum amount of confusion on the day when the new trading hours come into force.

Mr Speaker, I hope that they will take the message that inconveniencing and disrupting the affairs of their customers in this way is unacceptable and that they will make some effort to advise their customers as soon as possible that these measures do have the support of the elected representatives of the community in this place and will be enacted from 9 September. If they had hoped to rely on the promises of Mr Whitecross that the whole edifice is going to come crashing down, that the National Competition Council is going to save their bacon, they are very severely mistaken. They should accept what the law now says, comply with it, and tell their customers at the first available opportunity, and not muck them around.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Assembly adjourned at 5.42 pm

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