The debate over deregulated trading continues to polarise the Albany business community after vocal opposition to the movement was raised at a community consultation discussion last Thursday.
Only 20 people attended the second of two scheduled public consultations held at the City of Albany following a zero attendance recorded at the first meeting on July 24.
The majority spoke against the Albany Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s push to deregulate retail trading in Albany, claiming it only represented about 25 per cent of business in Albany and the introduction of seven-day trading would damage local and outlying small businesses in regional towns.
President of the newly formed Great Southern Small Business Association Ian Rayson said it was inevitable deregulated trading would “devalue” businesses in Albany, accusing ACCI chief executive Graham Harvey of having an unorganised approach in his attempt to boost the retail sector.
“The chamber doesn’t support retail business,” he said. “It has been very poorly handled.”
Mr Rayson said the recent defeat of a deregulated trading campaign by Kalgoorlie City Council showed not all regional areas were suited to unrestricted trading.
But Mr Harvey remained adamant it was the right direction for Albany’s development.
“People keep saying it will decimate soccer teams and church attendances,” he said.
“If that were to occur it would be the only place in Australia it has happened. A lot of this is just emotional blackmail and scaremongering.
“The data quite clearly says the best thing we can do to the small business sector is to deregulate trading hours.”
Albany Aviation’s Ian Williams, who also spoke against deregulated trading, said he was horrified at the lack of interest shown by the Albany community and council over the issue after Don Dufty was the only councillor present at the meeting. “This potentially is historically the biggest decision to be made in the last 50 or 100 years,” he said.
“Is there really any interest from the council or are they just going to flip a coin on the night.”
Monday was the final day for submission of community and business surveys circulated by the City of Albany.
Independent consultant Ian McKenzie from Asset Management said he would begin analysing the results and compile a report for Albany City Council to consider within three weeks.