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Emotions define debate

TO SAY the current debate on freeing up retail trading hours has been dominated by the emotional perceptions of some small business advocates is an understatement.

Yet another detailed independent review has been completed.

Like most of the previous reviews examining the deregulation of trading hours, this review carried out by the Ministry of Fair Trading has found “no evidence to support the proposition that general trading restrictions were essential to either the formation or maintenance of a diverse and competitive retail market in WA”.

In this latest review, all assertions made by those members of the review team with pre-determined opposition to any trading hours reform were, I understand, diligently tested and found to be baseless or irrelevant to the purpose of the review.

As we have come to expect, once the findings of this latest review were leaked to the media by people who didn’t like that the facts didn’t support the perception they continue to perpetuate, out came well-worn phrases such as: “This will be the death knell for small retailers, it will be devastating for small shops and will pull the rug from under small businesses.”

Analysis of non-regulated trading hours’ regions in Australia indicates there is no decrease in the number of small retail businesses following deregulation.

Regulated and deregulated markets across Australia were all characterised by similar demographic distributions – small retail interests dominated with 90 per cent.

This latest independent review found the existing Retail Trading Hours Act to be anti-competitive, anti-consumer and anti-business.

It is now up to the WA Government to respond in the best interest of the general community and not to the baseless rhetoric of minority interest groups.

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