Seven-day trade hearing begins

THE first day of the Warwick seven-day trading hearing began yesterday with Mayor Ron Bellingham and Chamber of Commerce president John Randall taking the stand.

The two-day Industrial Relations Commission hearing is being held in the Toowoomba Magistrates Court and heard by Deputy President Swan and Commissioners Fisher and Thompson.

The application to allow Sunday trading in Warwick is being made by the National Retail Association (NRA) and is being opposed by the Queensland Retail Traders and Shopkeepers Association.

After a tour of Warwick in the morning, the Commission began yesterday afternoon with Warwick Brumby’s owner Marcus Barlow and Southern Downs and Granite Belt Regional Tourism chairwoman Margaret Cairns both submitting in favour of Sunday trading.

Next Mayor Ron Bellingham presented Southern Downs Regional Council’s position on the application.

Council made two submissions after initially deciding to take no stance on seven-day trading then changing its position and opting to oppose it.

The bench accepted the second submission, but Mayor Bellingham was questioned about council’s manoeuvre.

Jed Moore, representing the NRA, asked why, if council already had seen the results of its surveys, it then changed its mind.

Cr Bellingham said he was unaware of what had happened between the first and second meeting but that there had been reservations when they first made the decision.

He said councillors had received information from the United Retail Federation and that he had a meeting with its president but, in his opinion, there was not much new information gained from that.

Mr Moore asked the Mayor his personal opinion of council’s resolution in relation to the fact in 2005 the former Warwick Shire Council said if Toowoomba was to have seven-day trading, it would also need to pursue it.

The Mayor queried the appropriateness of the question.

“I’m here to represent the council and that’s not a fair question,” he said.

“We weren’t all in full agreement on the second resolution and I would have difficulty answering that question as an individual.”

Warwick Chamber of Commerce president John Randall submitted in favour of seven-day trading and was questioned about the chamber’s survey in which the majority of businesses asked were against it.

He told the hearing that most of those businesses didn’t personally want to open on a Sunday and weren’t necessarily against Sunday trading generally.

He said the chamber tried to take a more “holistic approach” when deciding on its stance. He discussed Rose City Shoppingworld’s proposed expansion and the concern over its future should Warwick not get seven-day trading.The hearing continues today with opposition’s witnesses and closing arguments.


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