Special trading arrangements for shops in the Mossman and Port Douglas area should be extended another year before changing to tourist area hours, a parliamentary inquiry has found.
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 impacts of the special trading arrangements for shops in the Mossman and Port Douglas area was a key issue for the inquiry.
The committee also noted the importance of tourism to the local economies of both towns, and the difficulties experienced by local businesses due to the COVID-19 pandemic.”
“Our inquiry considered the importance of the special trading arrangements, how they are working and whether they should be continued. In response to submissions from the Douglas Shire Council, the Douglas Chamber of Commerce and Tourism Port Douglas Daintree, the committee also considered whether the special trading arrangements should be expanded to cover all of the Douglas Shire.”
“The committee heard that the ability of major retailers to trade extended days and hours remains very important to the region’s ability to meet the needs of visitors. The committee did not, however, identify a need for major retailers to trade 24/7, as the arrangements currently permit. In response to customer demand, major retailers are choosing to trade on days and hours that closely match the trading arrangements for their stores in other high value tourist areas.”
“It’s important to note that independent shops in the region are already able to trade 24/7 on almost every day of the year, and this will continue despite the moratorium.”
“In relation to the proposal to expand the arrangements to all of the Douglas Shire, this is something that can and should be considered by the Queensland Industrial Relations Commission, as the independent arbiter, based on the facts and after the expiry of the moratorium.”
In other findings from the inquiry, 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.”
“While the Act is operating effectively to regulate trading hours arrangements, the committee identified some areas where it believes it can be improved.”
“The committee has also proposed an amendment to the Act to extend by 12 months a general moratorium on changes to trading hours arrangements throughout the state. The extension is 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. This will help to ensure stability for the retail sector, businesses, workers and consumers.”
The Queensland Government has three months to table in parliament its response to the committee’s report and recommendations. The committee’s specific recommendations are provided below.
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’:
• additional factors which indicate the significance of the event, such as attendance numbers, size of the event, media coverage, contribution to Queensland’s national and international reputation, and its unique or infrequent nature
• whether there is a necessity for non-exempt shops to trade as exempt shops during the period of the 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, and • a declaration of a ‘special event’ by the Queensland Industrial Relations Commission must include a condition about voluntary work which reflects that section 36B of the Act will apply to all employees of non-exempt shops covered by the declaration.
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
• section 16A of the Act be amended to add the ‘Mossman and Port Douglas Tourist Area’ to the section 16A definition of ‘tourist area’ in (a) and to remove from the definition ‘(b) the town of Port Douglas’, and for these changes to be effective from 31 August 2023.