Accustomed as I am to Queensland’s over-regulated economy, I was surprised the other week when shopping at the Spring Hill Woolworths to find out it has extended trading hours during the current Brisbane Festival season, which culminates in the River Fire spectacular next Saturday night. If I recall correctly, the Spring Hill Woolworths is trading to 10pm weekdays instead of being forced to close at 9pm and it is trading until 8 or 9pm Sunday instead of 6pm.
In a normal market economy, shops would have no problem opening longer if they can make enough revenue to cover costs and earn a profit, but in Queensland an application to the Queensland Industrial Relations Commission is required. Thankfully, the National Retail Association was successful in having the Brisbane Festival declared a “special event”, being significant for “cultural, economic and tourism reasons”, so many supermarkets in inner city Brisbane can trade for longer, as reported in the QIRC decision of 3 September. This is a victory for common sense and hopefully is a good sign that we will see further relaxation of our anachronistic retail trading hour restrictions in the future.
Regular readers will know I’ve long been critical of trading hour restrictions. For instance, in my post from last month Priorities for boosting tourism in Queensland I recommended the Queensland Government:
Remove regulations which make us look boring to international visitors—e.g. anachronistic retail trading hours regulations, which mean most supermarkets can’t stay open after 9pm Monday to Saturday or after 6pm on Sunday, and none can sell alcohol.
We shouldn’t just relax trading hours restrictions during the Brisbane Festival. They should be relaxed all year round.
Incidentally, check out the winning Treasury Brisbane #BrisbaneAnyDay photo taken by my mother Jennifer Tunny. The photo was reproduced in a Treasury Brisbane Instagram post. 1823 was the year it was decided that the worst convicts in Sydney should be sent a long way away, and NSW Surveyor-General John Oxley sailed off to find a suitable location to dump them.
Treasury Brisbane #BrisbaneAnyDay competition winning photo by Jennifer Tunny
Firstly Gene, congratulations to your talented mother! Her abilities extend well beyond her photographic skills! I apply her research and advice, every day in my work!
Secondly, please keep up your calls for more flexible trading hours. By all means protect our safety with ID checks in night time hotspots, but let our retailers and hospitality sectors make a living!
One particular challenge in this respect is the pressure, from some well meaning advocates, to secure extra pay supplements (so called “penalty rates”) for staff who work outside standard hours.
The latest effort to declare an otherwise normal (though busy) night, 24 December, as a public holiday is an example.
We should remind them that 9-5 Monday-Friday hours are from the white picket fence era of the 1900s, when you couldn’t get cash, medicines, petrol or… well just about anything, out of hours. An era, thankfully over, when crushing regulation hindered our economic progress.
In reality, this change will not help the students and other low paid staff seeking a few extra hours of work to pay their Christmas bills. On the contrary, it will force retailers to either cut staff or close early, rather than pay these punitive rates. And we end up with a lower Gross state product, fewer retail jobs and more online/offshore purchasing. Not quite the intended outcome.
Keep up the fight to reduce rustic regulation!
Hi Mike, thanks, I’ll pass on your kind words to JT. Great point about Christmas Eve which I should have mentioned in the post. Many thanks for your encouragement!