A MILLICENT business has denied claims of illegitimately trading on Sundays as the State Liberal Government has highlighted a regional supermarket as opening unlawfully “for many years” before rearranging fridges in order to continue trading.
It has been cited as an example of “perplexing” laws holding back traders from operating.
SafeWork SA has been ordered to prepare an urgent report on claims current laws are being breached.
Among the claims the government department has been instructed to investigate is whether a regional supermarket greater than 400 square metres, which had traded unlawfully on Sundays, moved its fridges in from the wall to be allowed to continue to trade.
Although Millicent is the sole regulated regional area with a supermarket greater than 400 square metres, Eudunda Farmers (IGA) chairman Bill Schuller, whose George Street retail outlet opens on Sundays and in recent years has rearranged its fridges, denied trading illegally.
Mr Schuller claimed the store’s reposition of the fridges was a result of legislative change.
“We were investigated on a number of occasions, but the people who checked actually measured the place,” he said.
“Because they changed the law in 2016, they said to us you will have to reset your shop and we had to comply with it.”
In 2016, then Industrial Relations Minister John Rau allowed SafeWork SA to allow issues of confusion around trading hours legislation to be rectified before potential enforcement of trading hours as defined under the act.
The shop trading hours legislation only applies to metropolitan Adelaide and certain other areas which have been designated as proclaimed shopping districts.
Millicent, Binnum (Binnum, Frances and Kybybolite) and Grace (Mallala) are South Australia’s remaining proclaimed shopping districts.
Where a shop is located, its size and the items it sells determine if it is exempt or non-exempt from the state’s trading laws that determine days and hours, including weekends and public holidays, shops can open within these areas.
Grocery stores with more than 400 square metres of retail floor area are non-exempt, meaning they are unable to trade on Sundays or any full-day public holiday.
Non-exempt grocery stores are also unable to trade beyond 6pm on weekdays – with the exception of Thursday – and 5pm on Saturday.
While sources have confirmed the business in question is Millicent IGA, Treasurer Rob Lucas refused to identify the supermarket “at this stage”.
Although trading outside the regulated hours attracts a $100,000 maximum penalty, Treasurer Lucas said it was unlikely businesses found breaching the act would be fined.
Treasurer Lucas said the legalities around the shop trading hours act were perplexing, echoing his party’s calls for deregulation.
“It just seems bizarre when you have someone that wants to trade and they have a floor space larger than 400 square metres, they can move their fridges and all of a sudden they are legally allowed to trade,” he said.
“We do not want to stop anyone from trading, what we really want to do is allow freedom of choice and try and introduce reforms to the shop trading act.
“We have to highlight to other MPs, the media and the community there are so many silly provisions in our laws like this one.
“We really do have to reform the law and have some common sense.”