NO EASTER: Childers Woolworths will be forced to close for four days over the Easter break if a Government blunder is not fixed.
NO EASTER: Childers Woolworths will be forced to close for four days over the Easter break if a Government blunder is not fixed. Zach Hogg BUN210114CWO2

No Easter trade for grocery giant

A MAJOR government blunder will force some regional retail stores to shut down over the Easter break, including Woolworths in Childers, ripping money out of the pockets of the grocery chain and its workers.

But news of the mistake has been met with positivity from some local small business owners who are rejoicing at the fact they might not have to compete with the retail giant.

The mistake comes after the Palaszczuk Government forgot to add the three words - "including Easter Saturday"- in its amended trading hours laws.

It will affect workers in 15 sites across Queensland unless the government amends its new Bill in Parliament.

The government is now scrambling to fix the issue, with Industrial Relations Minister Grace Grace stating the problem would be fixed before Easter.

Owner of Childers IGA Bruce Mahoney said his store would still be allowed to open over one of the busiest times of year.

He said it was positive news for his business, who suffered a major blow over the Christmas period.

"Woolworths were granted trade of another four Sundays leading into Christmas and were also allowed to trade an extra hour every Saturday," he said.

"We had the worst Christmas ever, it got pretty frightening for us and it really hurt us- we had to put staff off on those Sundays which was so hard on them at that time of year."

Mr Mahoney said he was thankful his family-owned store would be up and running for the upcoming holiday period.

"It's fantastic news for us, we are very lucky to get to trade over Easter" he said.

The bungle has been a hot topic amongst politicians, with Liberal National Party Leader Deb Frecklington stating the move exposed Labor's "gross incompetence in carrying out the most basic functions of government".



Queensland racing minister Grace Grace at Clifford Park in Toowoomba, Thursday, March 3, 2016.
Industrial Relations Minister Grace Grace. Kevin Farmer


Woolworths respond

IN order for major retailers in 15 Queensland towns to be able to trade again over Easter, amendments need to be made to the Trading (Allowable Hours) Act.

Industrial Relations Minister Grace Grace will not be able to amend the act until February 13 when Parliament resumes, but said the oversight was not intentional.

Ms Grace became aware of the problem when the National Retail Association wrote to her last Friday, warning of "severe consequences on shoppers, employees and retailers in the upcoming Easter long weekend".

In a statement to the NewsMail, grocery retailer Woolworths said it hoped the error would be resolved in a timely manner.

"We believe our customers would benefit from the greater convenience extended shopping hours would deliver," a Woolworths spokesperson said.

"We would hope the Government will move quickly to fix this error as soon as practical before Easter to enable trading."