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Friday, 14 October 2005                                                               


Changes to procedures relating to collective bargaining by small businesses have now passed the Senate but the fate of the Trade Practices Bill is still uncertain because of disagreements between the Government and Senate opposition parties (and Senator Barnaby Joyce) over merger provisions also in the Bill. The new procedures mean small businesses wishing to bargain collectively can simply lodge a notification with the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission and the ACCC has only 28 days to decide whether or not it is in the public interest. If the ACCC does not give a decision within 28 days the collective bargaining arrangement comes into operation. The Federal Government has accepted arguments put forward by the Shopping Centre Council, and now included in the Bill, that the ACCC must provide the target of a collective bargaining notification with a copy of that notification as soon as practicable after it has been lodged. The target also has the right to make submissions to the ACCC opposing the notification but these submissions will need to be lodged well within the 28 day period.


The Retail Leases (Amendment) Bill was introduced into the Victorian Parliament last Thursday. Although the Bill primarily resolves drafting ambiguities in the Retail Leases Act 2003, it also addresses issues raised in several recent Supreme Court decisions. It closes the loopholes in the Retail Tenancies Reform Act 1998, relating to non-provision of a disclosure statement, created by the decision in Ovidio Carrideo Nominees Pty Ltd v The Dog Depot Pty Ltd [2004] VSC 400. It also amends section 146 of the Property Law Act to require a minimum 14-day notice for all breaches of a lease, including actions for repudiation, but excluding non-payment of rent.


We reported (Shop Talk 19/8/05) the bizarre decision by a Full Bench of the Queensland Industrial Relations Commission (QIRC) to reject a challenge by the National Retail Association to the QIRC’s jurisdiction to hear a claim to close non-exempt shops throughout Queensland on Boxing Day. This was because of amendments to the Trading (Allowable Hours) Act in 2002 which specifically prevented the QIRC reducing allowable hours on public holidays in the South-East Queensland trading area. Although the Full Bench subsequently rejected the Boxing Day claim, it held that although it could not reduce allowable trading hours of non-exempt shops on public holidays in this area, it was not precluded from closing non-exempt shops entirely on public holidays. The NRA and the Queensland Government challenged this decision and on Tuesday the Industrial Court upheld the appeals. The Industrial Court ruled that the QIRC does not have the power to close non-exempt shops in South-East Queensland on those public holidays on which trading is permitted by the Trading (Allowable Hours) Act.


Congratulations to Centro Roselands, in Sydney, which on Wednesday celebrated its fortieth birthday. When it opened Roselands was the largest regional shopping centre in the southern hemisphere with over 90 shops and services under one roof. Also celebrating a fortieth birthday this month is Westfield Kotara, in Newcastle, officially opened on 6 October 1965 as Kotara Fair, and later renamed as Garden City, before being renamed Westfield Kotara following Westfield’s purchase of the centre in 2003.   




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