supermarket trolley
The South Australian Treasurer has labelled current retail trading laws “outdated”. Image – Canva
  • Referendum will be only the tenth in the state's history
  • Reform will allow shops to open any day except Christmas, Good Friday and Anzac Day morning
  • Current legislation generally prohibits retail shops over 200 sqm to open on public holidays

The South Australian Government has announced a referendum – the first in 30 years, and only the tenth in the state’s history – will be held on election day next year regarding trading hours reform.

The referendum will ask electors if they approve the Retail Trading Bill 2021. Most notably, the Bill will allow all shops, regardless of floor size or location, to open on any day of the year except Christmas Day, Good Friday and Anzac Day morning. If made law, this will bring the state into line with most other states and territories.

The Bill protects existing penalty rates and protections to public holidays under the Commonwealth Fair Work Act 2009.

Several months ago, many retailers received a trading exemption during the Adelaide Cup Day public holiday. This allowed CBD stores with a floor area above 200 square metres to open on this day for the first time, even though stores under 200 sqm have been permitted to open during a public holiday, under the Shop Trading Hours Act 1977.

South Australian Treasurer, Rob Lucas, has labelled such laws ‘outdated’.

“Now is the time to let the people decide, once and for all, whether they want the freedom to shop, trade and work when and where they choose without our confusing, outdated laws stopping them.

“We know that sensible shop trading hours reform has overwhelming public support.”

Rob Lucas, South Australian Treasurer

Mr Lucas added changes such as the rise of online shopping, flexible work hours and working-from-home arrangements warrant reform in retail as a way to keep up with changing times.

“There was a time when Sunday trading was banned, and the Act even restricted when you could buy red meat or get a haircut – all that inevitably changed,” he said.

“The reality is our businesses are desperately trying to keep up with changing consumer needs and expectations, but our existing laws are a practical and economic handbrake.”

The dual election/referendum date is set for 19 March 2022.

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