RETAIL TRADING HOURS AMENDMENT BILL 2015

I have been waiting a long time to make my second reading contribution to the Retail Trading Hours Amendment Bill 2015 and it has given me time to review the Greens’ position on earlier retail trading legislation. I thought the suggestion to send the bill to the Standing Committee on Legislation was a good one because it would have given us an opportunity to look at the evidence of the effect thus far of the 2012 reforms. It would have been particularly good for those people who are still concerned about extending retail trading hours. In my second reading contribution I want to give a voice to two constituents who are concerned about the extension of retail trading hours. Before I do that, I acknowledge the very good work that has gone on behind the Chair to achieve very efficient progress with both concerns we have—one being extending retail trading hours and the other normalising retail hours in what are known as “holiday resorts”, which seems to have no purpose in today’s commercial environment. I acknowledge the work done behind the Chair to split those two distinct features in this bill. In my second reading contribution I note the concerns of Peter O’Keeffe. I know all members would have received his emails, but I do not know to what degree they would be aware of them. Certainly, the general public might not be aware of them and, definitely, the Minister for Commerce still disagrees with his concerns. I want to put those concerns on the record and it will not take me long to do so. Peter O’Keeffe’s email states — Earlier this year, we tabled a petition in State Parliament that called for an inquiry into the effects of previous changes to trading hours, before any further changes were considered. We wanted to make sure that the impacts of earlier Barnett Government changes on jobs and small businesses, as well as the working conditions and family lives of retail workers were taken into consideration, before any further changes were made. As you know, Colin Barnett wants to bring forward opening times for big retailers from 8am to 7am on weekdays, giving them even more market share. Many of us were concerned that big retailers would gain an unfair advantage. The email continues — Unfortunately, Commerce Minister Michael Mischin successfully argued against our inquiry being set up. That addresses the concerns of the minister about rejecting the petition.

Hon Michael Mischin: How could I interfere with a petition being examined?

Hon LYNN MacLAREN: This is probably the letter the minister sent to the committee when it was investigating the petition. Those letters were published on the website and no doubt this constituent has seen them. Since the house did not support the motion to send the bill to a committee, it is at this point that this constituent’s concerns can be heard; therefore, I want to put them on the record. The email continues — In making his argument, Mischin acknowledged that the Barnett Government had performed no economic modelling of the effects changes to trading hours had on jobs. From day one the Greens have been concerned about these changes to retail trading hours. Where is the economic modelling to show the impact on jobs? We have heard what the industry has said; we have heard what the government has said. However, we need to see the results and some evidence-based research about how this will impact on jobs in WA. The constituent goes on to say — He argued that an inquiry would be of “little benefit” because lots of other reports and studies had already been undertaken. However, the reports he cited were either out of date, not Western Australian or written by lobby groups with sympathetic views to the big retailers. ABS figures show the average number of people working in retail in 2011 was 131,000, while in 2015 it had dropped to 129,000, despite the fact the population had increased by 260,000 over the same time. These Australian Bureau of Statistics figures are broad figures and we deserve to see tighter figures. It continues — While there has been a pickup in part-time employment in the sector in 2016, a continuing decline in full-time employment means the number of working hours generated by the sector is continuing to fall. The average number of full time retail jobs fell from 68,800 in the six months to May 2015 to 65,200 in the six months to May 2016. This, despite the big retailers continuing to open new stores and the volume of retail trade in WA continuing to increase.

The figures clearly show that deregulation has not created more work. How the government can press ahead with further changes without examining the employment outcomes of its previous changes is beyond us. He has expressed his belief and is referring to his interpretation of the minister’s belief, which is — … retail workers shouldn’t worry about the impact of 7am starts on childcare arrangements, because child care providers would open earlier to cater to the circumstances of retail workers. He then went on to say that earlier starts wouldn’t be a problem for retail workers reliant on public transport, because the trains and buses started running between 5am and 5.30am. The constituent wonders about the perspective of the Minister for Commerce. The email then states — The idea that childcare centres around Perth will start opening earlier if the big retailers are given the power to open earlier is completely unrealistic. The idea that someone working in bakery can get to work for a 5am start on a train that starts running at 5am is similarly nonsensical. It is true that the Shop, Distributive and Allied Employees Association of WA is not happy about extending retail trading hours. The second voice I want to put on the record is from the WA Independent Grocers Association (Inc). I will quote it briefly because it draws my attention to the operation in England. It states — … WA’s current trading hours regime exhibits close similarities to that of England in that it also operates a six-hour Sunday trading system for general retail businesses. This fact was highlighted recently in the British House of Commons which rejected moves that could have substantially increased current trading hour arrangements. Although related to Sunday trading, the proposal was rejected by 317 MPs of whom 27 are members of the Cameron government. Following the vote Conservative MP David Borrowes noted that the move was opposed by businesses of all sizes, shop workers and faith groups and that the government had not made an economic case for the sweeping changes. Defeat of the proposal underscores some important points in the context of the current debate in WA, namely that one of the world’s largest economies not only has the same trading hours as Perth, but also does not see the need for further deregulation. In this respect it is worth noting that the decision applies to more than 56 million consumers or almost 90 per cent of the UK population. I thank John Cummings, the President of the WA Independent Grocers Association, for continuing to keep me informed about his point of view on this matter. It is important to note that not everybody is happy with the bill. It is not only about our convenience as consumers; it is also about the impact on workers and their families. I think I have highlighted the main concerns of people with this bill. I have said that it is a great suggestion to split the bill. We would support part of the bill and have very serious concerns about other parts