TRADING BLOWS: Legislation changes could have devastating impacts on regional traders.
TRADING BLOWS: Legislation changes could have devastating impacts on regional traders. Paul Braven GLA221015SHOP

Roma's Easter hours blunder has pollies hopping

ROMA commerce president Cyril Peet has slammed a legislation wording blunder that could have had a 'disastrous effect' on the Roma business community.

As part of Labor's recent amendment to the Trading Act, the words "including Easter Saturday” were accidentally removed from the allowable hours section, which would have caused a four day closure of larger retailers in regional towns over Easter.

Fortunately, industry representatives were quick to point out the omission, and Industrial Relations Minister Grace Grace stated that the issue "would be amended and therefore fixed before Easter.”

Ms Grace told the Courier Mail the oversight was not intentional.

"This was an unintentional drafting omission, which was not immediately identified by stakeholders, in Committee nor when the Bill was debated in the House,” Ms Grace said.

Ms Grace promised to act quickly and change the legislation wording to allow shops to open on Easter Saturday. This cannot happen, however, until Parliament resumes on February 13.

Mr Peet said extra closures, as stated in the botched amendment, could result in 'panic buying' in regional towns.

"There are only three public holiday days where shops in Roma are made to close,” Mr Peet said.

"And the general trend is when the shops close in Roma, we see what I call panic buying, which is a problem I'd say for rural towns.

"For example on the Sunshine coast where shops are open seven days a week, it's not such a big deal when things close, but in Roma where we have certain times and that is it, if our shops were forced to close for a four day period, it would be a disaster.

"I think it would also cause issues with produce delivery that would be seen in the days following Easter as well.

"This law change would hit hardest in the country where you only have two or three supermarkets that supply the surrounds.”

Mr Peet said the changes would have potentially interfered with the Easter in the Country festival, which is to be held in Roma over the Easter weekend.

Easter in the Country is a five-day celebration showcasing the country lifestyle. Now in its 41st year, the event is expected to draw crowds of more than 10,000 people to town.

"Another thing to consider, is the fact that Roma is hosting Easter in the Country during that time. Organisers of the event are trying to convince smaller businesses in the area to remain open for the event, which will attract big crowds from all over- this is a chance for Roma to get extra business that we wouldn't usually have.

"If the population doubles over Easter, and the stores have to close, what are people going to do for food? Not everyone is going to eat out. Many people will want to be making food, whether they are at home or camping out for the event. It would be impractical if not impossible.

"We can handle the one day, but four, it just doesn't make sense. I hope the government gets this sorted and quickly.”

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