NSW pushes for 24-hour ANZAC Day trade ban

NSW pushes for 24-hour ANZAC Day trade ban

The New South Wales government is set to extend restrictions on retail trade to cover the entirety of ANZAC Day. The Australian Retailers Association (ARA) has expressed concerns about the move.

Currently, retailers such as supermarkets and fashion stores must remain closed until 1pm under the Retail Trading Act. The change means they will remain closed until midnight.

The restrictions do not apply to small businesses and businesses that are not considered retailers or have exemptions, such as markets, cafes, drugstores, kiosks and takeaways. These businesses will remain open all day.

A review of the ANZAC day trading restrictions was launched last year and a public consultation period ran from September to October.

The majority of submissions supported the all-day restrictions, with veterans, veterans organizations and the public all agreeing.

Last year, the ARA submitted a request to the New South Wales Government consultation opposing changes to ANZAC Day trade restrictions.

Managing Director Paul Zahra said the ARA does not support extending the current ANZAC Day Trading Hour regulations in NSW.

“ANZAC Day is an incredibly important day of remembrance for Australians,” he said.

“With dawn services and marches across the country, retailers in NSW have consistently honoured ANZAC Day commemorations by remaining closed until 1pm. Rather than detract from ANZAC Day commemorations, retailers are supporting community activities and consumer needs.

“Changing this legislation will not change the way Australians come together on this important day.

“The current approach strikes the right balance, allowing for respectful remembrance and consumer choice and convenience, without imposing further restrictions on retailers at a time when the sector is struggling.

“While we are relieved that small businesses such as cafes, restaurants and chemists are exempt, larger retailers, including essential retailers such as supermarkets, electrical stores, hardware stores and department stores selling winter essentials, will be affected.

“Consumers still need food and supplies during the holiday season, so we see larger retailers as essential service providers, especially in regional and remote locations.

“Data from our members shows that consumers in NSW want the opportunity to shop for groceries and other essentials on ANZAC Day and are more likely to do so during store opening hours after 1pm.”

Zahra also noted that this had an impact on the earning potential of store workers.

“Many workers are relying on the holidays to get by during this incredibly challenging economic period,” Zahra said.

“Any changes to the current regulations would restrict consumer choice and reduce the earning potential of retail workers who choose to work on ANZAC Day.”

The ARA added that the changes to ANZAC Day opening hours would also lead to further inconsistency between states and territories.

“Western Australia is the only state that closes on ANZAC Day, but all states have their own approach. If NSW were to create another set of unique rules, it would make it even more complicated for national retailers to manage.

“We believe the current regulations that allow all stores to open after 1pm strike the right balance for consumers, store workers and small business owners.”

New South Wales Premier Chris Minns said closing the biggest stores for one day was a small price to pay for living in a free and open democracy.

“For Australians, no occasion could be more solemn or meaningful than ANZAC Day,” said New South Wales Premier Chris Minns.

“From next year, New South Wales will extend our retail restrictions to Anzac Day, to ensure our veterans are recognised and can participate in services throughout the day.”

Acting Minister for Industrial Relations Tara Moriarty said the legislation currently restricts morning trading, but questioned why retailers are allowed to trade when there are afternoon and sunset services.

“We cannot be half-hearted about ANZAC Day,” she said.

Meanwhile, Veterans Minister David Harris said extending trade restrictions on ANZAC Day “ensures the sanctity of the commemoration is given the status it deserves.

“ANZAC Day is a national day of remembrance when the community comes together to recognise the sacrifices made by Australian service members in defence of our nation and our way of life.”