Council attacked for not putting community first. Jed Moore pictured.
Council attacked for not putting community first. Jed Moore pictured. File

Rocky will get 7-day trading

IT was the worst Christmas present imaginable for Central Queensland’s small business owners and hundreds of retail workers.

Sunday trading will start in Rockhampton on January 31 after the Queensland Industrial Relations Commission this week approved a National Retailers Association application for extended trading hours.

National retailers like Woolworths and Big W will be open from 9am to 6pm on Sundays, while other

retailers including independent stores at Stockland Rockhampton, City Centre Plaza, Allenstown and Northside Plaza will have the choice to trade on Sundays.

Saturday trading hours will be 8am to 5pm and Monday to Friday trade will be between 8am and 9pm. The extended hours will be effective from January 29.

Sunday trade is crucial to smaller businesses when major shopping centres are closed.

National executive director of The Retailers Association Scott Driscoll yesterday attacked Rockhampton Regional Council for its role in the decision- making process.

Earlier this year the council voted to support seven-day-trading. However, it later back- flipped and voted to have no opinion on the matter by taking a neutral stance.

“They (council) haven’t put the community first; it’s all about the profit of Coles and Woolworths,” said Mr Driscoll, who is involved with small and medium-size retailers Australia-wide.

“Give it 12 to 18 months and jobs will be lost, small businesses will be missing and the community will suffer.

“Council jumped into a position, dismissed their decision, agreed to meet with us and then refused.”

Mayor Brad Carter said council offered The Retailers Association the opportunity to attend a full council meeting, but they declined because of other commitments.

“We advised them to attend and I emphasised how important it was to present their information,” Cr Carter said.

He said all councillors considered the impact on the community and the benefits for the big retailers didn’t enter the discussion.

“There were two key points. The opportunity to attract more shoppers into our region from western areas and I talked with shift workers who believed Sunday gave them an extra opportunity to shop as a family.”

Cr Carter said the extended trading would boost our local economy and attract tourists to the region.

He said the reason behind their second decision was a reflection of the community being split about seven-day-trading.

“After we took this position, I found there was a tremendous amount of community support (for extended trading).”

The news was music to the ears of National Retailers Association’s director of corporate services Jed Moore.

The National Retailers Association represents retail giants including Big W and Woolworths.

“We didn’t expect the decision until next year,” Mr Moore said yesterday.

He said evidence revealed there were all the right ingredients for seven-day-trading.

“Rockhampton is the hub for CQ and there is strong economic growth. Seven-day-trading is desired by consumers and we’re pleased with the quick decision,” he said.

Mr Driscoll said it was now up to the local people of Rockhampton to maintain competition and support independent businesses.

An eager Rocky shopper, Jasmine Schneider, was excited after hearing the news yesterday.

“I can’t wait. Sunday shopping is more convenient, especially for full-time workers,” Jasmine said.

She said it would be a drawcard for out-of-towners and tourists.

Manager of George Street FoodWorks in Rockhampton, Phill Hardiman, said it would be a shock to the business initially, but they had to grin and bear the move.

He said they would adjust staff accordingly and believed the convenience aspect of their shop wouldn’t be lost.

Final witness support for the push was heard in Brisbane on September 10 after a two-day court hearing in Rockhampton.

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