Economic challenges continue to mount with figures released today showing inflation has reached 6.1%. We are conscious this impacts retail on many levels – as customers respond to the rising cost of living, and as retailers tackle the financial pain associated with increased operating costs including fuel, energy, supply chains, rents and more.
As the new Federal Parliament sits for the first time, we continue our government advocacy around alleviating cost and labour pressures on business. We’re pleased to see the government prioritise the processing of around 60,000 permanent visa applications, with reducing immigration red tape one of our call-outs to assist with the staffing challenge. The much-anticipated Jobs and Skills Summit scheduled for 1-2 September will be a milestone moment for decision-making as workforce shortages cripple our recovery efforts. The ARA has put forward a range of solutions to be discussed at this event – including initiatives that will help support more participation from women. Read more in my opinion piece in Inside Retail.
The Government has a wide-ranging legislative agenda with 18 new bills set to be introduced this week, including Australia’s emissions reduction target along with paid family and domestic violence leave.
We are extremely disappointed that the Queensland Parliamentary Committee examining the state’s retail trading hours has failed to recommend full deregulation, which would provide consumers greater choice and retailers with the flexibility to open when they want. The ARA has been a powerful advocate for modernising this archaic set up within Queensland, South Australia and Western Australia. The ARA presented a strong case for deregulation, outlining the economic benefits and consumer research showing it’s what the people want.
However, the state government is set to press ahead with only partial deregulation, which only continues the current uncertainty when it comes to trading hours and the lack of uniformity between locations and different types of retailers. Despite this outcome we will continue to advocate for change within all affected jurisdictions.