Woolies vows jobs for change
More jobs claim: Woolworths says deregulation will create more employment. Picture: The West Regionals

Thousands of retail jobs across WA will be created if the State Government properly frees up trading hours and regulations, one of the nation's biggest supermarket chains says.

After a report bemoaning the State's retail trade restrictions, Woolworths says it will create hundreds of jobs if consumers are able to shop whenever they want.

The Productivity Commission, in an interim report on national retail laws, found WA, South Australia and Queensland were Australia's most highly regulated shopping jurisdictions.

Even after the Barnett Government's reforms that enable restricted shopping between 11am and 5pm on Sundays, the commission believes WA laws still hurt consumers.

Trading hours restrictions meant that over the Easter weekend and Anzac Day public holiday, major shops were shut for two out of five days and faced restrictions on another two. According to one national firm, its 29 stores in WA, SA and Queensland cannot open on Sundays, leading to a loss of 1500 trading days a year, or the equivalent of having a supermarket shut for four years.

Commissioner Patricia Scott said some laws, such as the regulation in WA that prevented Masters from selling lighting, made no sense.

She said consumers were the losers from such laws.

"Costly regulations are holding business and employment back, like the ongoing restrictions on trading hours on Sundays in South Australia, WA and Queensland," she said.

When partial deregulation was introduced, Woolworths put on 700 extra staff across Perth.

It said if full deregulation was put in place for WA, including abolishing Sunday bans in some regional centres such as Albany and Geraldton, the company and others like it would put on thousands more staff.

"If this reform is adopted, Woolworths alone would create hundreds of additional jobs and there would be many more across the entire retail sector," it said.

The State Government has maintained that it will only take a "moderate, incremental" approach to reform to allow small business and the community time to adjust.

However, the WA Independent Grocers Association said Woolworths and Coles were now so dominant that they were able to put in place pricing arrangements with suppliers that hurt competition.

The West Australian

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