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Retailers unite in call for action

A group of Australia's leading retail representative groups today united in a call to improve conditions for Australia's struggling retail sector.

Five peak bodies representing hundreds of thousands of businesses nationwide agreed on a joint effort to press all Governments, agencies and other stakeholders to take action to stimulate the retail sector - a key driver of economic prosperity.

Representatives of official agencies, Federal and State Governments from WA to Queensland, and major retail representative groups and business owners attended the National Retail Issues Forum, convened by the Franchise Council of Australia.

Representatives of national bodies, the FCA, the Australian Retailers Association, the Pharmacy Guild of Australia, and Restaurant & Catering issued the following communiqué:


The forum endorsed the view that Australian small business retailers are competing on an increasingly uneven playing field that features an unnecessarily high cost environment and unfair competition that is exacerbated by factors such as reduced access to opportunity and finance.

The forum called for prompt action by industry stakeholders and Government to avert a retail disaster, enhance competition and continue to provide outstanding quality and service to Australian consumers.

Specifically, the forum:

•       Endorsed the continued development of a retail leasing code of conduct and established a cross-industry working group to finalise the code;
•       Called on the Federal Government to substantially reduce penalty rates that apply under Federal Awards in recognition that penalty rates are imposing unreasonable costs on businesses and undermining business trading to the detriment of consumers;
•       Supported the introduction of a small business assistance program modelled on the UK and US examples;
•       Called upon governments to address and neutralise ‘bracket creep’ in payroll taxations; and
•       Called for a GST to be imposed and import duty on all foreign e-commerce transactions above $50.

FCA Executive Director Steve Wright said the National Retail Issues Forum was a positive opportunity for representative groups to combine their voice to bring about improved conditions for Australia's small businesses.

Mr Wright said hundreds of millions of dollars in commercial opportunity was being lost because of the factors discussed at the National Retail Issues Forum.  FCA would facilitate further work by the group, in the development of substantive proposals to support the goals agreed by the Forum.

"Different groups will take the lead on different initiatives, but the intention of the Forum is that all participants will be united in promoting and achieving the goals," he said.

29 February 2012

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