The West

Steve Hauville spent $100,000 of his own money trying to trade on Sundays.

He was opposed by the State government of the day and failed.

But this Sunday, more than a decade on, he'll open his doors with the full backing of the Barnett Government.

Mr Hauville is the electrical franchisee at the Harvey Norman store in Osborne Park, and "lead franchisee" in the State for the brand - effectively the WA spokesman.

He says he harbours no bitterness over the big money he spent on legal fees in a vain bid for Sunday trading. Instead, he says he's thankful the Government and Opposition have finally sorted out the impasse.

And he speaks enthusiastically about living in WA - "the luckiest part of the Lucky Country" - the strength of the local economy and how Sunday trading will not only be good for retailers, West Australians and tourists, but Perth's artistic and cultural life, too.

"People will be out doing things on Sunday," he predicted. "I think we are on the verge of something special for WA."

Mr Hauville arrived in Perth in 1997, sent from Sydney to establish the Harvey Norman brand in WA.

"My job was to come over and get it going," he said.

Cannington and Osborne Park were the first stores to open - today there are 22 in WA - and it was those two stores which took on the Court government in late 1998 by opening their doors on a Sunday.

Mr Hauville believed in deregulation and said people should have the right to shop when they wanted.

The decision was also based on Harvey Norman's unique operating method, whereby individual franchisees in each department, such as electrical and furniture, made up the store.

Because the franchisees in Cannington and Osborne Park each employed fewer than 10 people, they believed they could legally open on Sundays.

And they did in October 1998, from 10am till 4pm.

"I challenged the government to allow us to open," Mr Hauville said.

"I opened in defiance because I wanted to test it. We had one of the biggest trading days in the history of Harvey Norman in Australia.

"The people voted for Sunday trading with their feet and wallets."

The Ministry of Fair Trading disagreed and there was talk of charging the franchisees.

But Mr Hauville said they were never served a summons.

Instead, he issued a writ against the ministry, applying for an exemption to the Act. He lost that challenge and subsequent appeal.

But there will be a victory of sorts when the doors open on Sunday.

The West Australian

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