Marginal seat voters opposed to longer trading hours: poll

Tuesday 16 Feb 2016

Polling in the Barnett Government’s nine most marginal metropolitan electorates has revealed the majority of voters are opposed to longer trading hours for big retailers in Perth.

The WAOP poll was commissioned by the WA Branch of the SDA, the union representing more than 23,000 retail workers in Western Australia.

To download a summary of the polling, click here.

The poll found 60 per cent of voters thought current trading hours laws should be maintained, while only 30 per cent of voters believed big retailers should be allowed to open longer.  Seven per cent of voters thought trading hours should be reduced for big retailers.

The polling was released as the SDA presented a petition to State Parliament of more than 9,000 signatures of retail workers and members of the community, calling for a public inquiry into the effects of longer trading hours.

SDA WA Branch Secretary Peter O’Keeffe said the Barnett Government needed to listen to the community.

“Our research shows that the community is generally satisfied with current trading hours, and the response to our petition supports this,” he said.

“Colin Barnett’s push for longer trading hours is all about giving big retailers more power, rather than responding to the wishes of the community.”

Mr O’Keeffe said statistics showed the Barnett Government’s previous changes to trading hours had resulted in fewer retail jobs.

Despite the government’s claims that longer trading hours would create more jobs, the average number of people employed in retail actually fell from 131,000 in 2011 to 129,000 in 2015 (ABS Labour Force Statistics).  Over the same period, Western Australia’s population increased by more than 230,000 people.

“Experience has shown that giving the big retailers more market share comes at the expense of smaller retailers, who end up losing business and putting off staff,” he said.

“These jobs are not replaced by positions with the big retailers, which generally stretch their existing workforce over the longer hours, instead of hiring new people. 

“This has a huge impact on the family and community lives of retail workers.”

Mr O’Keeffe called for any proposed changes to trading hours to be subjected to a full public Parliamentary inquiry.

“We want an inquiry where the cost to the community of both previous and proposed changes can be considered, alongside the benefits delivered to big retailers,” he said.