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Retailers sore at poor GST funding help

Small WA retailers are breathing a sigh of relief after the promise that trading hours will not be deregulated until at least after the next State Government election.

However, they are concerned about the effects of the GST and the poor funding available to help them adapt to it.

Fair Trading Minister Doug Shave has said there will be no deregulation of trading hours until after the State election due in December.

WA Retailers Association chief executive Martin Dempsey said keeping trading hours as they were meant small retailers could still take one day off – Sunday.

“Most shopping centres are open for around sixty-two hours a week. With deregulation of trading hours that could extend to seventy hours or more,” Mr Dempsey said.

“Most small shop owners would work those hours themselves.”

WA Council of Retail Shopping Associations executive officer Nick Catania said trading hours deregulation could be reconsidered after the election in order to secure National Competition Commission funding worth $6 million to $7 million.

“Trading hours deregulation helps promote the market dominance of larger stores,” Mr Catania said.

“Larger stores’ hold of the WA market will go from the 60 per cent we have now to the 81 per cent in the eastern States.”

Mr Dempsey said the Federal Government had a “trifling gift voucher” to help the small retailers comply with the GST.

“The average cost of compliance for microbusinesses is $6,000. The Federal Government is offering $200,” he said.

Mr Catania said small businesses generally had trouble coping with any change and GST was one of the biggest changes the sector had to face in a long time.

“Small businesses don’t have the

flexibility, money or time to throw at change,” Mr Catania said.

“The Federal Government is not giving a fair share of GST money to small business.

“Small retailers have to beg the WA Retail Traders Association for funds to help with the GST.

“The Australian Retail Traders Association received $2.5 million for GST help. We believe 10 per cent of that has gone to the WARTA.

“Our investigations have revealed the cheapest form of mechanisation to purchase is a computerised cash register and that costs $4,000. The cheapest GST software package we’ve found is $350.

“Retailers will be the major tax collectors and the main people who’ll suffer consumer complaints. They are the ones who will pay for this ‘privilege’,” he said.

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