A parliamentary inquiry into Sunday trading in regional towns says the Industrial Relations Commission is best placed to rule on Sunday and public holiday trading for Mount Isa retailers
The inquiry which held a hearing in Mount Isa in November said the Queensland Industrial Relations Commission should determine whether Mount Isa gets Sunday and public holiday trading for its major retailers.
Changes in 2012 left Mount Isa as one of 23 regional towns that cannot trade on Sunday for five years, a period that expires in August 2022.
The parliament's Education, Employment and Training Committee handed down its findings from an inquiry into the operation of the Trading (Allowable Hours) Act 1990 with nine recommendations.
Committee Chair and Member for Redlands, Kim Richards, said the issue of Sunday and public holiday trading for major retailers in Mount Isa and other towns outside south east Queensland was a key issue for the inquiry.
"At present, the towns and cities outside of south east Queensland and declared tourist areas fall into three groups for trading hours. The major retailers in two of the groups are permitted to open Sundays and public holidays, while retailers in the other group, which includes Mount Isa are not," Ms Richards said.
"The committee heard from the Mount Isa City Council, Commerce North West and the Mount Isa Tourism Association that Mount Isa, the state's largest regional city, needs its major retailers such as Coles, Woolworths, Kmart and Big W to be open on Sundays and public holidays. Other stakeholders argued that this change would destroy local businesses, lead to job losses and allow major retailers to dominate the state's retail markets even more than they already do."
Ms Richards said the committee found that the Queensland Industrial Relations Commission, as the independent arbiter, is best placed to hear an application and to make a determination for cities and towns like Mount Isa, to move from one trading hours group to another.
"This will be possible after the moratorium on changes to trading hours laws expires."
While moratorium expires in August this year the committee has also proposed amendments to the Act to extend by 12 months two moratoriums on changes to trading hours arrangements to account for the disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
"If implemented by the Government, the continuation of the moratoriums will ensure the current trading hours arrangements will remain unchanged until the end of August 2023," Ms Richards said.
"This will help to ensure stability for the retail sector, businesses, workers and consumers."
The committee found that the state's trading hours arrangements under the Trading (Allowable Hours) Act 1990 are working well, Ms Richards said.
"From the evidence and feedback received throughout the inquiry, the moratoriums and amendments to the Act made in 2017 have provided consistent and stable trading arrangements for the retail sector as a whole, as well as for individual businesses, workers and shoppers," she said.
The Queensland Government has three months to table in parliament its response to the committee's report and recommendations.
The committee recommends the Act be amended to refine the process for consideration of 'special event' applications by the Queensland Industrial Relations Commission, to ensure the requirement under section 5(1)(c) of the Trading (Allowable Hours) Act 1990 that an event declared a 'special event' is, in fact, 'a unique or infrequent event of local, State or national significance'. The list of considerations in section 5(3)(a) of the Act should be expanded to include the following additional considerations the Commission is required to examine when deciding whether to declare an event to be a 'special event':
The committee recommends the categories for non-exempt shops core trading hours (which are defined by their location, under section 16D) be reduced to 4 categories:
. South-east Queensland area (unchanged) . Tourist area (amended to include the Mossman and Port Douglas Tourist Area) . Regional area (renaming the category 'Schedule 1AB areas') .Other area (combining 'Seaside resorts' as defined in the 2017 Trading Hours Order, and 'Any other area', with the core trading hours for this new category being as currently prescribed for 'Seaside resorts').
The committee recommends that the trading hours for the industry specific categories under section16E - 'Hardware shops' and section 16EA - 'Shops selling motor vehicles or caravans' be retained in the Trading (Allowable Hours) Act 1990 without amendment.
The committee recommends that the definitional criteria for independent retail shop at section 6(1) of the Trading (Allowable Hours) Act 1990 be retained.
The committee recommends that the Trading (Allowable Hours) Act 1990 be amended to remove section 36B(2), so that section 36B applies as a condition of any extension of retail trading hours, irrespective of any workplace agreement or industrial award.
The committee recommends that the Trading (Allowable Hours) Act 1990be amended to clarify that: . the Queensland Industrial Relations Commission has the power to make an order about voluntary work in accordance with section36B of the Act,
The committee recommends that section 21 (Orders concerning non-exempt shops) of the Trading (Allowable Hours) Act 1990be amended to remove sections 21(3)(a) and 21(3)(c)(i) to prevent the situation where applications are made to the Queensland Industrial Relations Commission to make orders to vary core trading hours from the hours prescribed in the Act, once the moratorium has ended.
The committee recommends that the Trading (Allowable Hours) Act 1990 be amended to extend the section 59 moratorium for an additional 12 months to 31 August 2023.
The committee recommends that: . the section 56 moratorium for the Mossman and Port Douglas Tourist Area under the Trading (Allowable Hours) Act 1990 be extended to 31 August 2023
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