ARA hits back at ‘prehistoric’ Boxing Day ban

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NSW Opposition Leader Michael Daley has declared plans to cease Boxing Day trading. But the Australian Retailers Association (ARA) isn’t happy.

In a tweet last week, Mr Daley said: “There is no good reason why shops should be open on Boxing Day. It’s all about corporate greed. That’s why, a Daley Labor Government will repeal the Baird & Berejiklian Boxing Day laws. To give workers the day back to spend with their friends & family.”

ARA Executive Director Russell Zimmerman says Mr Daley’s suggestion that Boxing Day is driven by corporate greed is “ludicrous”. The day is beneficial for both retailers and employees, Mr Zimmerman countered.

“Mr Daley has revealed his hand with this extraordinary proposal to ban Boxing Day trading in NSW,” he said. “It’s abundantly clear he wants to deny retail workers the employment and wage-earning potential this day provides.

“This is another cynical effort to cost NSW retailers valuable income and retail employees a treasured opportunity to earn extra money on one of the biggest trading days of the year.”

‘Put on notice by Mr Daley’

Before 2015, retail trade on Boxing Day had been restricted to tourist precincts only, including Bondi and the Sydney CBD. The current NSW government legislated to allow Boxing Day trading across the whole state after a two-year trial.

With comprehensive feedback from business owners, employees and shoppers, the ARA says an independent review in 2017 revealed that allowing Boxing Day trade in NSW would “level the playing field” for retailers. It would also create extra opportunities for workers to take part in the Boxing Day sales, the review said.

“Retail employees, including young people and students, have been put on notice by Mr Daley,” Mr Zimmerman said. “He would prefer to reduce their employment opportunities and put them at a disadvantage to their counterparts in every other Australian state and territory.”

‘Prehistoric’

South Australia recently joined other states and territories across Australia that operate on Boxing Day. These include Victoria, Tasmania, the Northern Territory and the ACT. The ARA says the “backwards step” proposed by Mr Daley is “prehistoric”. It will severely disadvantage local small business owners in Australia’s biggest state, the ARA says.

“Consumers want to shop on Boxing Day,” Mr Zimmerman said. “Employees want the opportunity to earn extra wages. And retailers want to trade.

“Any move to prevent local businesses from serving their customers on the busiest retailing day of the year will merely drive consumers online and provide a significant leg-up to overseas competitors.”