Victorian small retailers are set to be adversely impacted by a change to Easter trading hours, with larger businesses set to open their doors over the holiday period.
State Premier Ted Baillieu promised during the 2010 state election that the Easter trading confusion would end and all businesses would be free to open their doors.
He has since announced that all Victorian business owners would be able to make the decision themselves. Innovation, Services and Small Business Minister Louise Asher said in a statement: “All businesses will now be able to take advantage of high tourist numbers during the busy Easter period.”
Robert Doyle, Melbourne’s lord mayor, backed the decision, telling the ABC: “Tourism in the centre of the city is a very big thing; people don’t get it if they’re in the city and those shops aren’t open.”
The Victorian Labor state government introduced the trading ban on large business as part of its industrial relations policy in 2003. Only businesses with less than 20 employees were allowed to open its doors, but now all businesses are free to choose.
The decision will be a boost to large retailers such as supermarkets and department stores, yet may disadvantage small retailers who previously had the day’s trade to themselves.
The issue has intensified as Anzac Day, another public holiday with no trade, is the day after Easter Monday this year.
The debate is also being held in Adelaide, where a decision is still yet to be made about Rundle Mall, South Australia’s biggest retail space.
Local MP Rachel Sanderson lodged a bill to have the mall upgraded to a tourist precinct, which would allow it to open on public holidays.
Meanwhile, Michael Donovan, state secretary of the Shop, Distributive and Allied Employees Union, told the AAP: “We’re very upset about what the government is doing”, adding that the decision “completely stamped all over the rights of retail workers and many small businesses.”