ALL major retail outlets and supermarkets will remain closed in Orange on Boxing Day for yet another year and the ban looks unlikely to change, despite a push from several councils for the state government to allow Boxing Day trading in all NSW communities.
The state government attempted to overhaul Boxing Day trading last year, but the legislation change was abandoned, meaning major retailers are only allowed to open if NSW Industrial Relations has granted their local government area an exemption in exceptional circumstances.
Murray Shire Council, in the Riverina, is leading the push to force a change to the state legislation after a Woolworths store in Moama had its application for Boxing Day trading refused.
Murray Council asked Orange City Council to support its quest, in August, but Orange councillors refused.
In 2010, after initially supporting any business that wished to apply for a three-year exemption to the Boxing Day trading ban, Orange council overturned the decision following a presentation from the Shop Distribution Allied (SDA) Employees Association.
At the time, councillor Neil Jones was outspoken against Boxing Day trading, arguing that there were valid religious and cultural reasons for the ban, but said, since then, people’s opinions had changed.
“People don’t value the public holidays the way we did historically,” he said.
“They don’t treat it as something special for the family.
“Regretfully it’s part of a trend for shopping 24/7. Maybe businesses should be able to choose when they trade.”
Despite falling short of supporting Boxing Day trading, Cr Jones said the decision should be between business owners and their employees, provided workers were paid penalty rates.
Currently, employees of shops granted an exemption to open on Boxing Day have the right to refuse to work, under the state legislation.
“We are part of the tourist industry that sees the demand and this trading will probably play into that,” Cr Jones said.
“It’s sad but it’s inevitable.”
Cr Jeff Whitton agreed.
“The evidence is that there is a demand,” he said.
“But ... I think as civic leaders we still need to take the lead on promoting families to have time together.
“Being closed for one day a year is not going to cause businesses to go out of business.”
IGA rules out Boxing Day protest
LIKE its chain store counterparts, Ashcroft’s Supa IGA will remain closed on Boxing Day to comply with the state laws.
But that doesn’t mean owner Ian Ashcroft agrees with the trading ban.
The supermarket was slapped with a $500 fine in 2009 when it defied the trading rules and opened on Boxing Day.
But Mr Ashcroft has ruled out repeating the protest.
“I still find it bizarre that the legislation doesn’t allow us to open, but I’ve had my crack at it and I certainly won’t break the law,” he said.
He said he was disappointed the trading ban remained in place for Orange.
“I do think it is an uneven playing field because I do see Orange as a tourist destination and the thing they need over the Christmas break is to eat and drink,” he said.
“Some people do want to work.”