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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1996 Week 11 Hansard (24 September) . . Page.. 3290 ..


Motion (by Mr Berry) agreed to:

That leave of absence from 13 October to 11 November 1996 inclusive be given to Mr Whitecross.

Sitting suspended from 11.53 am to 2.30 pm


Retail Trading Hours

MR WHITECROSS: Mr Speaker, my question without notice is to Mr Humphries. Mr Humphries, I refer to the Trading Hours Act which you rushed through parliament in June this year allegedly for the purpose of assisting small business. Are you aware that small businesses in at least one major shopping mall have been asked to agree to an increase in core hours to include Sundays, with a commensurate increase in rent? Given that the shopping malls already trade on Sundays, do you agree that this additional impost on small business is not justified, and that shopping mall owners are taking advantage of a situation which you have created, to the disadvantage of small businesses and ultimately of consumers?

MR HUMPHRIES: Mr Speaker, I am not aware of any particular proposal to increase core hours. There has been much debate in the past about core hours in major malls. I point out that part of the process of restricting the trading hours of major supermarkets in the town centres was to make sure that malls were not able to use the opening of trading hours of those supermarkets to drive longer trading hours for the other shops in the centres.

Mr Speaker, one of the earliest and most persistent sources of calls for the Government to act on trading hours in this Territory has been the shopkeepers in major malls. They are the ones who came forward and said, "Do something about the effect that those supermarkets in those centres are having on our businesses". They felt that their businesses were being very hard done by by the invasive behaviour of those large supermarkets. Mr Speaker, it seems to me that it is appropriate for the Government to be able to do something about that problem and to deal in turn with the problems of those smaller shopkeepers.

If the centre management, as Mr Whitecross alleges, is now in the business of extending core trading hours, that is not a consequence of the Government's decision on trading hours, because the Government's decision was to reduce trading hours in those supermarkets. Why the other shops in the town centres should now expand, when the supermarkets, which are usually the hub of things that go on in those town centres, are reduced in trading hours, is something of a mystery to me. Perhaps Mr Whitecross can explain the source of his information and why he thinks this step by the Government should have that effect. I cannot see what connection there is between those two things.

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