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Compensation call battle on

A BATTLE is brewing between deputy opposition leader and spokesman for consumer affairs Dan Sullivan and Consumer and Employment Minister John Kobelke over whether the government will compensate businesses adversely affected if trading hours are deregulated.

Mr Sullivan said the Western Australian Government’s 2002-2003 budget papers showed that compensation payments had to be considered.

“If they make significant changes they have to take into account adjustment provisions. The paper states ‘government agencies must explicitly consider adjustment assistance wherever a particular sector of the community is adversely affected by reform’,” he said.

The budgetary papers explain what possible transitional arrangements should be considered including the phasing in of changes and financial support to assist those adversely affected.

However, a spokesman for Mr Kobelke said the Minister did not believe that the Government would be required to pay compensation.

“Dan Sullivan’s statement is factually wrong,” the spokesman said.

He said that the Gallop Government did not believe that it would be required to make the payments, nor would it support them.

The spokesman said the Government was addressing what transitional arrangements might be required by small businesses if deregulation occurred.

Mr Sullivan has also questioned whether the State will lose if it ignores the National Competition Council’s calls for trading hours change.

“There has only been one State that has lost payments. Queensland failed to comply with water regulation and it lost $270,000,” he said.

And the Queensland Government is seeking to have those funds reimbursed.

During question time on April 1 Queensland Premier Peter Beattie said that his Government was requesting a full reimbursement of funds because the Queensland Competition Authority found that the City of Townsville decision to not implement the NCC’s recommended two-part water tariff was sound.

“I have now written to the Federal Treasurer, Peter Costello, requesting the lifting of the $270,000 fine….We have to remember that one rule does not fit all in Australia. The very regionalisation and decentralisation of Queensland provides for particular considerations and particular problems that need to be addressed,” Mr Beattie said.

Mr Sullivan said the State Government should stand up to the NCC and abide by its election promise to not deregulate trading hours.

However, he declined to voice his own opinion on whether or not he supported deregulation stating that the Liberal Party had not yet finalised its policy documents on the issue.

“After the last election we decided to throw out old policies and start afresh. With respect to trading hours I have been talking to people on both sides of the argument,” Mr Sullivan said.

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