|Description of this FunctionDescription of this Function|
In 1882 a Royal Commission was empowered to inquire into the "alleged evils arising from the protracted hours of labour of employees in connection with retail shops and trading establishments". Employees in retail trading establishments had for some years been promoting shorter opening hours through an Early Closing Association and through the Salesmen's and Assistants' Union. The actions of these associations had at times gained support but this was usually spoilt by a number of traders who resumed protracted hours of opening. The Commissioners investigated the case of both the employees and employers and in their second progress report, dated 12 July 1883, were convinced of the absolute necessity for legislative action. They believed that the obligations of humanity were paramount to those of trade and therefore saw justification in interfering in the relations of employer and employee to seek to do through legislation that which the employers and employees had been unable to accomplish themselves.
The Factories and Shops Act 1885 (49 Vic., No.862), which became operative March 1886, provided for prescription of shop closing hours (in metropolitan areas only) unless the type of shop was specifically exempted. The Factories and Shops Act 1896 further introduced provisions regulating the sale and delivery of bread, milk and meat on certain days. These latter provisions were introduced to protect shopkeepers who were required to abide with the provisions that prescribed shop closing hours. Regulations regarding street trading were the responsibility of municipalities (see VRG 12). The legislation regulating retail trading hours aimed at reconciling the situation between shop owners, shop assistants and shoppers and between groups of shop owners.
The Labour and Industry Act 1953 revised and consolidated the provisions of the Factories and Shops Acts, and included provisions with respect to precription of shop opening hours, in addition to shop closing hours.
Responsibility for this function had been assumed by the Minister of Labour in 1900 from the Chief Secretary (VRG 26). In 1954 the Minister of Labour and Industry assumed responsibility for all functions previously exercised by the Minister of Labour.
A Ministerial Advisory Committee on Shop Trading Hours (VA 1311) was established in October 1982 with the following terms of reference:
to provide personal advice to the Minister of Labour and Industry in the context of the Government's policy that there should be no extension of shop trading hours and consistent with the Government's policy of support for small business
to examine in detail the current trading hours provisions of the Labour and Industry Act 1958 and advise the Minister on the need for any legislative or administrative changes to further the Government's policy objectives and possible changes required to simplify, make more comprehensible or remove anomalies or inconsistencies from existing legislation.
The Committee was expected to submit its third report in September 1984.
In March 1985 responsibility for the shop trading provisions of the Labour and Industry Act 1958 were transferred to the Minister for Industry, Technology and Resources (VRG 82) by Administrative Arrangements Order (No.17) 1985, however, the Department of Employment and Industrial Affairs (later Department of Labour II) (VA 2777) continued to enforce shop trading requirements on an agency basis for the Department of Industry, Technology and Resources.
The Shop Trading Act 1987 came into operation 21 November 1987 replacing the provisions of the Labour and Industry Act 1958 which related to trading hours and registration of shops.
Responsibility for the Shop Trading Act was transferred from the Department of Industry, Technology and Resources (VA 2661) to the Ministry of Consumer Affairs in February 1989. The Department of Labour II (VA 2777) continued to enforce shop trading requirements on an agency basis until at least 1990.
The Capital City (Shop Trading) Act 1992 deregulated trading hours for the central business district and Southbank. In 1996 the Shop Trading Reform Act was passed which repealed both the Shop Trading Act 1987 and the Capital City (Shop Trading) Act 1992. This act defined ordinary shop closing hours including the special provisions for Christmas Day, Good Friday and Anzac Day. A list of shops exempt from ordinary hours is given in the Schedule of the Act. Municipalities were also empowered under the Local Government Act to make local laws regarding shop trading hours.
In October 1992 responsibility passed from the Minister for Consumer Affairs to the Minister for Small Business (VRG 101). The Office of Small Business within the Department of Business and Employment became responsible for administration of shop trading legislation until 1996 when, after further substantial legislative change the function moved to the Department of State Development under the supervision of the Minister of Industry, Science and Technology. Since 1999, the Minister of State and Regional Development has been responsible for the oversight of retail trading hours.