The Chamber of Commerce and Industry WA (CCI) strongly welcomes today’s commitment by the WA Liberal Party to deregulate retail trading hours to support local businesses and local jobs.

WA continues to have the worst trading hours in the country. To boost jobs and support the local economy we need to do all we can to ensure the competitiveness of WA retailers.

Tasmania, Victoria, New South Wales, the Northern Territory and the Australian Capital Territory all have totally, or significantly, deregulated shopping hours, and the South Australian Government will soon implement their election commitment to deregulate trading hours, except on Christmas Day, Good Friday and Anzac Day morning.

The WA Government needs to take a leaf out of the east coast tourism playbook, which is performing far better than WA, and give local businesses the freedom to choose when they open their doors.

Deregulation of retail trading hours will lower prices for consumers, create convenience and more jobs for West Australians and boost economic growth. It will also provide more choice to working families as they balance their busy schedules while giving tourists the retail convenience they expect wherever they travel in the world.

Competition is tough enough for bricks and mortar retailers as they face increased competition from online retailers which trade day and night across the globe. We can’t have WA retailers entering the fray of the digital economy with their hands cuffed.

The WA Government’s own independent Economic Regulation Authority, the Australian Productivity Commission and the Harper Review have all studied WA’s restrictive retail trading hours and recommended that the regulations be removed. In every independent study, it was strongly argued that retail trading regulation is holding WA back.

The State’s regulations are simply ridiculous, telling businesses to open at certain times but not others. They also dictate the products different types of shops can sell – allowing some shops to sell light bulbs but not light fittings or outdoor lighting but not indoor lighting.

Reduced regulation would inject about $200 million into our state, according to estimates by the Productivity Commission. We need to encourage WA consumers to support local retailers which are trying to compete with online shops that don’t have governments telling them to hit the off switch.

CCI urges the Government to commit bi-partisan support to removing these unfair restrictions on WA local businesses to bring us in line with the rest of the country.

As a first step, we encourage the Government to review its decision on Christmas retail trading hours and to, at the very least, extend it to the 49 hours that have been approved for the past four years under both Liberal and Labor Governments.