Suggestion of ending Boxing Day trade in NSW draws ire

The Australian Retailers Association has spoken out against a comment made by New South Wales Opposition Leader Michael Daley at a rally in Sydney on Wednesday.

Speaking at the protest about Woolworths’ application to have 3500 staff stock shelves and make deliveries on December 25 in preparation for Boxing Day sales, Daley said that Boxing Day trade was “all about corporate greed” and there was no good reason for shops to be open on the day.

Russell Zimmerman, executive director of the ARA, has taken issue with Daley’s comments, calling them “prehistoric” and “straight out of the primordial ooze”.

“This proposition is straight out of the primordial ooze and Daley wants to take NSW back to the land before time,” Zimmerman said.

“While this may come as a surprise to some in politics, the majority of New South Welshmen have views which have evolved well-past this 1980s-era thinking. Consumers want to shop on Boxing Day, employees want the opportunity to earn extra wages, and retailers want to trade.”

Boxing Day ban a “step backwards”

Prior to 2015, retail trade on Boxing Day was restricted to tourist precincts in NSW, such as Bondi and the Sydney CBD, but the current state government legislated to allow Boxing Day trade across the state after a two-year trial.

Victoria, Tasmania, the Northern Territory, the ACT and South Australia all allow trading on Boxing Day. Daley’s proposal would be a “step backwards” for Australia’s biggest state, according to Zimmerman.

“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,” he said.

The ARA said it is working with retailers to ensure that Boxing Day trade remains in NSW.

The debate about Boxing Day trade, however, is tangential to the original issue, which was about Woolworths’ request for permission from NSW Industrial Relations to receive and unpack goods in stores for five hours on Christmas morning.

New South Wales Treasurer and the Minister for Industrial Relation Dominic Perrottet told reporters on Wednesday that the application is out for consultation, but said similar applications have been rejected in the past.

“I personally don’t want people working on Christmas Day,” he told reporters on Wednesday.

Woolworths has noted that this type of activity is permitted on public holidays in all other states and territories.

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