The West

Trading issue on back burner ... again
Brooks Garden shopping centre, Albany.

Albany will not have seven-day trading in the immediate future, after Albany City Council again decided not to make a definitive decision on retail trading deregulation, instead resolving to defer the issue for at least another six months.

On Tuesday, council was to vote on whether it would forward the results of community consultation into deregulation to Commerce Minister Simon O’Brien for his consideration on whether to change trading hours in Albany.

Instead, a motion from Councillor Sarah Bowles to consider the issue as part of its ongoing corporate and economic strategic planning process, required to be completed by June 30 next year, was passed 8-1.

Cr Bowles told council it could not apply to Mr O’Brien without being able to show support for deregulation from four sectors of the community – the general public, tourism sector, business community and the local member of Parliament.

She said the issue was never going away and council needed collaborative research and consultation before it made a final decision.

“The issue is ongoing and divisive, we need to stop the adversarial approach,” she said.

Cr Ray Hammond said there had been little research on the social and economic impact of deregulation and sensible economic modelling, with far greater transparency, was required.

During public question time, Great Southern Distilling Company owner and Latro Lawyers principal Cameron Syme said Albany was a tourist town, but there was a perception it was closed to trade.

Mr Syme said those against seven-day trade were often the ones who benefited from a regulated environment and the issue should be considered more broadly in a strategic context.

Most in the public gallery were against deregulation.

After the meeting, both sides of the debate welcomed the decision.

Albany Chamber of Commerce and Industry chief executive Graham Harvey described it as a common sense outcome and said the chamber would continue pushing towards deregulation.

“It means now that the whole issue of deregulated trading can be assessed and judged in light of the overall economic development plan, which is what should have happened in the first place,” he said.

Great Southern Small Business Association president Ian Rayson said he was glad deregulation was off the agenda for now.

“But the fact they are still considering it keeps us motivated and lets us get engaged with the rest of the community,” he said.

Both men said they hoped emotion and personal attacks would be taken out of the debate in future.

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