Chamber’s strong case for retail trading hours

Government enquiry

Howard Salkow

Senior Journalist

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The Douglas Chamber of Commerce has presented a strong case into a government enquiry process regarding the desirability and/or amendment of the retail trading hours that regulate what hours a business can trade, including whether those businesses can trade on Sundays and public holidays.

This comes in the wake of the Education, Employment and Training Committee inquiring into the operation of the Trading (Allowable Hours) Act 1990. The Act sets the days and times retailers across Queensland are allowed to open including on Sundays and public holidays.

A public hearing was held on Saturday, 20 November 2021 in Mossman where the case for Port Douglas and Mossman was made.

On 14 September 2021, the Legislative Assembly agreed to a motion that the Education, Employment and Training Committee inquire into and report on the operation of the Trading (Allowable Hours) Act 1990 (the Inquiry). The committee is required to report to the Legislative Assembly by Monday 31 January 2022.

In past years, the Douglas Chamber of Commerce successfully lobbied the State Government so that businesses in the Port Douglas Tourist Area unlike other regions of the state were granted a five-year exemption to be able to trade on public holidays including Good Friday, Christmas Day and other public holidays, according to a Chamber Committee Representative.

Trading limitations

“The Chamber of Commerce views that such unrestricted trading limitations is of critical importance to the Douglas Shire largely due to the following factors: 

  • The Douglas Region economy is reliant upon the tourism industry as a driver for the economy in a percentage of greater than 70%. The Douglas Shire is somewhat unique compared to all other regions in the state given the level of dependency upon tourism;A tourist will obviously wish to visit a place like the Douglas Shire on public holidays; 
  • A perception of a town open for business is of critical import to a tourist’s enjoyment of their visit to the region;
  • Although it may seem that it is only front line businesses such as cafes/restaurants, tourist shops that may need to be open on those days – that view is in fact a very blinkered or limited view of the understanding of the Douglas region. Even if a business is not on the front line, the secondary and tertiary businesses which are dependent upon the tourism businesses rely upon the tourism front line businesses being able to maximise revenue received from them at times when tourists are in town;
  • The retail trading hours regulations needs to be clarified as to whether businesses beyond the existing exempt businesses can still trade. So for example can a shop that sells clothing (but not primarily tourist souvenirs) also trade on the public holidays? That is not yet clear in the legislation; and  
  • In the Douglas Region, tourists who visit on public holidays will often have taken up accommodation in serviced apartments for a number of days. A tourist who is not able to access Coles or Woolworths on those days to buy groceries will end up having a substandard view of its visit to the region. We desperately need tourists to have outstanding recollections of their visit to the region – not complaints.”

 

Submissions

“The Council, led by Mayor Michael Kerr, the Chamber’s secretary Martin Tranter, and Tourism Port Douglas Daintree’s CEO Tara Bennett made submissions that were consistent in their request for the moratorium to be extended for a further 5 years.

“A retailer, Janette Walker, of Jungle Road Clothing, and Cheryl Welham, of Exemplar Coaches and Limousines, also made submissions in favour of the extension of the moratorium.

“The Chamber advocated strongly that the moratorium should extend to all of the Douglas region not just the Port Douglas or Daintree tourist area,” the Chamber Committee Representative said.
While there were only 20 people in attendance, the Parliamentary Committee noted that such numbers were four times higher than the corresponding participation at the enquiry in Cairns.

“TPDD’s submission also identified that the large number of day trippers to the region also supported the moratorium applying through out the region.

“All of the participants at the meeting were not in favour of unlimited trading hours (i.e trading of supermarkets beyond reasonable of hours of 8 pm – 9pm) expect on one off days like a pre Christmas trading situation,” said the Chamber Committee Representative.

Meanwhile, the recently appointed Chamber office bearers are:

President: Shirl Lyons – Owner/Operator, Port Douglas Mossman Pest Control
Vice president: Jeremy Blockey – Owner, Cape Trib Fruit Farm
Secretary: Martin Tranter – Solicitor, Bolt, Burchill, Tranter
Treasurer: Kylie Samson – Director, LJ Hooker, Port Douglas
Management Committee: Evelyn Matthews – Secretary, Mossman Cane Growers


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