Malinauskas, who was previously head of the powerful Shop, Distributive and Allied Employees union that staunchly opposes liberalising trading hours, had previously flagged Sunday morning trading as a potential deal the Opposition could live with.
However he quickly withdrew the compromise offer after it was met with short shrift from the Marshall Government, instead recommitting Labor to completely oppose the Liberal’s deregulation push, which failed to progress through parliament.
But with parliament being prorogued, the Government has vowed to “to take a second look at a number of legislative measures that the Parliament has previously rejected” – with the shop trading hours debate likely to fire up again.
Malinauskas told InDaily today he was willing to relax Labor’s opposition to the legislation, flagging a renewed potential compromise on Sunday morning trade.
And significantly, his union has suggested it would back such a deal.
“Labor put forward a sensible proposition allowing trading between 9am-11am on Sundays [but] Steven Marshall immediately rejected this offer,” Malinauskas said in a statement.
“Instead, he pursued total deregulation, which would hurt local family-owned small businesses, hurt local workers and hurt our economy… [and] his legislation failed to garner the support of a single crossbencher.
“As I’ve always done, I am willing to work collaboratively with industry to deliver the best outcome for our state – if Steven Marshall is willing to change his mind on Labor’s sensible compromise of trading between 9am-11am on Sundays, Labor would be willing to work with the Government.”
But, he added, the Opposition “will not support Liberal legislation which would hurt local businesses and local jobs”.
The gambit will put the Government in a quandary – whether to accept partial reform via negotiation with the Upper House – as Treasurer Rob Lucas did recently over his land tax changes – or take an all-or-nothing stance and argue for broader deregulation at the 2022 election.
Lucas told InDaily he was open to discussing Sunday morning trade, but insisted he was not interested in piecemeal reform.
“If and when we see it, we’d obviously see what it is,” he said of the Labor compromise offer.
“But we’re not prepared to only move to Sunday morning trading, we’re looking for comprehensive shop trading reform… people want Boxing Day trading, Easter Monday trading.
“People are crying out for comprehensive and bold reform, and that’s what the Marshall Government is committed to achieve.”
However, he noted, “if it’s part of a process to accepting what the Government wants to achieve, we’re always happy to discuss it”.
Asked if he planned to reintroduce a shop trading deregulation Bill when parliament reopened in February, he said: “We haven’t made that decision yet, but that’s one option obviously.”
SDA state secretary Josh Peak said the union was open to supporting 9am Sunday trading – but only “as a way to prevent total deregulation”.
“In a perfect world, there wouldn’t be any changes to the current arrangements – we think they’re about right and they provide a balance between workers, shoppers and businesses,” he said.
“But we’re realistic enough to understand that the Government is pursuing their deregulation agenda, based on ideology… in order to prevent total deregulation, and after consulting with our members we might be in a position where we’re able to support 9am trade.”
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