ARA urges halt to legislative changes to ease retail burden

Posted by James Ferre on 16th October 2008

Peak retail industry body the Australian Retailers Association (ARA) has urged state and federal governments to restrict the introduction of new legislation that could burden retailers with added compliance costs during this period of economic concern.ARA Executive Director Richard Evans said during one of the hardest economic times for retailers, decision makers are continuing to push through legislation across the country – including unit pricing, plastic bag bans, emissions trading schemes, parental leave, award modernisation and tobacco control – creating additional burden to retailers with compliance and other associated costs.

“The Rudd Government needs to walk the talk,” he claimed. “It has made a great move to stimulate consumer confidence with the Economic Security Strategy. Now is not the time to burden retailers with new legislation and compliance costs adding to trading stress. Now is the time to let retailers get back on their feet and allow this injection of dollars to flow through the economy.”

“However, in South Australia there is a plan to ban plastic bags by May next year – increasing costs for retailers. In Victoria we’re waiting to hear if the month-long trial that placed a 10 cent levy on plastic bags will be rolled out across the state – once again increasing costs for retailers,” Mr Evans suggested. “There is a lot of uncertainty for retailers at the moment and the threat of new legislation is an encumbrance for retailers who are struggling.”

“For example, instead of holding a steady hand to the wheel of legislation at a time where retailers are struggling after successive months of stagnant and declining growth, the NSW and Victorian governments are now pushing through new laws restricting the sale and display of tobacco products. Smaller retailers simply cannot afford to comply with the new legislation at the moment,” Mr Evans advised. “Retailers are supportive of government goals to reduce tobacco-related harm. Retailers are committed to reducing the environmental impacts of plastic bags. We’re simply urging decision makers to put the brakes on penalising retailers for responding to consumer demand in what is a very stressful time for the sector.

“It’s not enough to inject funds. The Rudd Government now needs to consider business economic impacts upon its planned legislative program. Working families include retailers and they need support right now – not heinous increased compliance costs,” Mr Evans concluded.