- Vic trading laws change again-
The latest in a series of State Government backflips over Easter trading
laws has been blamed on the former Kennett administration.
The Bracks` Government last night introduced legislation allowing service stations and pharmacy chains to operate on Easter Friday, Easter Sunday and ANZAC Day.
Small Business Minister Marsha Thomson said a loophole in the Kennett government`s shop trading legislation of 1996 meant chain pharmacies and petrol stations were mistakenly included in the non-trading ban, because their total number of employees across all sites exceeded 20.
Independent pharmacies and petrol stations with less than 20 employees were exempt.
The loophole came to the Government`s attention after it recently added Easter Sunday to the list of non-trading days.
Oil companies and the RACV alerted the Government when they discovered oil company-owned petrol stations would have to close over Easter, one of the busiest driving weekends of the year.
The Government rushed through the amendment to grant further exemptions for essential services.
The Opposition said it was an embarrassing oversight by the Government, which compounded the confusion over the new Easter trading laws.
Exemptions have already been granted to 30 types of small businesses and to 20 shires who opposed the ban.
Upper House Liberal MP Bill Forward attacked Ms Thomson in Parliament over the back-flip.
"The minister has more positions on this legislation than pictures in the Karma Sutra," Mr Forward said.
Australian Retailers` Association executive director Brian Donegan said he supported the exemptions, but said it was further evidence that the Easter Sunday trading ban should never have been implemented.
"The more exemptions granted, the more it strengthens our original opinion that it should have been left alone," Mr Donegan said.
He said the Government was shifting attention from its bungling by blaming the Kennett government.
"I don`t think it adds any credibility to the Government to argue they are now fixing an anomaly that has existed for a number of years, because they should have fixed it when they introduced the legislation," Mr Donegan said.
He said the ARA had urged the Government to defer any changes to the legislation until next year to properly consider all the issues that might arise.
"They just ignored us and what we are seeing now is those issues coming to fruition, unfortunately," Mr Donegan said
by Herald Sun
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