02/10/2007 - 22:00

AHA takes new stand on hours

02/10/2007 - 22:00

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One of the key lobby groups in the successful fight against deregulating Western Australia’s retail trading hours, the Australian Hotels Association, will back any new campaign against moves to open the state’s shops on Sundays.

AHA takes new stand on hours

One of the key lobby groups in the successful fight against deregulating Western Australia’s retail trading hours, the Australian Hotels Association, will back any new campaign against moves to open the state’s shops on Sundays, despite its recent call for extended trading hours for its members.

On the same day as Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Western Australia executive director, Deidre Willmott, was in Perth’s Murray Street mall advocating the deregulation of shopping hours, AHA WA chief executive Bradley Woods was at a pub in Floreat calling on the government to overturn restrictions on Sunday hotel trading.

The AHA, which is a member of the CCI, wants pubs to be able to open to midnight, albeit on a case-by-case basis.

Mr Woods said the AHA also wants the government to extend trading hours for hotels on Fridays and Saturdays until 2am. Pubs currently have to shut at midnight unless they have a special extended trading permit.

Mr Woods said it was a coincidence that his association had called for extended trading hours for pubs last Sunday, the same day that the CCI called for extended trading hours for retailers.

“For us it was purely and simply the long weekend, and in every state in Australia hotels could open for longer,” Mr Woods said.

“In Adelaide, the pubs shut at 4am and in Perth it was 10pm. We are sick of tourists complaining about how backward Perth is.”

But Mr Woods said the AHA remained supportive of small retailers who did not want Coles or Woolworths to open on Sundays and would back any new campaign by independent retail groups.

The AHA was one of the lobby groups represented by the WA Retail and Small Business Association, an umbrella group formed to fight the introduction of extended retail trading hours ahead of the 2005 referendum. The association, which has since disbanded, employed disgraced lobbyist Brian Burke.

Mr Woods’ push to extend pub opening hours is motivated, in part, to provide a more enjoyable environment for tourists.

But he has rejected claims made by the CCI that more shopping hours would be beneficial to the tourism industry.

“This has nothing to do with hospitality and tourism and everything to do with the interests of big supermarkets and suburban shopping centres,” Mr Woods told WA Business News.

He said the AHA would rather support increasing seven-days-a-week trade for small retailers in key areas that support tourism.

Since gaining a successful outcome at the referendum – about 60 per cent of Western Australians voted against extending retail hours – the AHA lost the battle to stop liquor stores opening on a Sunday in the metropolitan area.

But it remains committed to fighting against its introduction in country areas, Mr Woods said.

He said that, on average, hoteliers had suffered a 10 per cent drop in revenue following the introduction of Sunday trading for bottle shops in January.

Those changes were part of a shake-up of the state’s liquor laws, which included the introduction of a small bar licence, a move the AHA did not support.

Yet the AHA is now keen to get behind the small bar concept, claiming that extending Sunday opening hours would make it viable for investors and developers to open small bars.

Mr Woods said extending hours would not be “open slather”, but decisions could be made on a case-by-case basis.

STANDING BY BUSINESS. TRUSTED BY BUSINESS.

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