By NSW Premier Mike Baird @MikeBairdMP
Everyone can recall images on the news of people pouring through the doors of major department stores as the Boxing Day sales get underway. However, the opportunity to take part has been limited to those living close to, or willing to travel into the Sydney CBD.
At the March election, the Government committed to amend retail trading laws to allow shops to trade on December 26 and I can announce this week we have honoured that promise.
Historic legislation has passed the NSW Parliament this week that means residents of Western Sydney and regional NSW will finally be able to take part in the Boxing Day sales closer to home because, for too long, residents of Sydney’s Eastern Suburbs have been able to access the sales at Bondi Junction while people in Western Sydney have not had that same opportunity. Equally, people in Wollongong, Newcastle and many parts of regional NSW have also been missing out on the chance to shop close to home.
The changes to the law will allow shops across the state to open if staff freely elect to work. We have made sure the changes protect workers and ensure no employee can be forced to work, and no shop can be forced to open.
NSW is one of the last jurisdictions to deregulate retail trading laws on Boxing Day, and the changes bring us into line with Victoria, Western Australia, Tasmania, the ACT, Northern Territory and much of Queensland.
The opportunity for all stores to open their doors for such a major trading day cannot be underestimated. Importantly, the legislation creates a level playing field for retailers and supports jobs, meaning local dollars in local stores.
Meanwhile, the NSW economy continues to go from strength to strength.
Unemployment figures out this week show the jobless rate in NSW has dropped sharply and is now at its lowest level in 18 months.
The unemployment in this state has fallen 0.3 percentage points to 5.5 per cent, which is among the lowest in the country. There were 18,700 jobs created in the state in October and 123,000 jobs created so far this year. That accounts for more than half of all jobs created across the country in 2015 – and almost triple the number created in the next strongest state, Victoria.
These are fantastic figures that reaffirm we live in the engine room of the national economy and if these results continue for one more month, the state’s unemployment rate would have been at or below the national average for two years running.
Also this week, the sails of the Sydney Opera House were lit up in brilliant orange in celebration of the Hindu festival Diwali.
Diwali has become a festival that’s not only recognized, but embraced by Australians of all backgrounds. The community was encouraged to visit the Harbour foreshore to see our world famous icon light up for Diwali to celebrate the symbolic victory of good versus evil and light over darkness. Last year these photos went right around the world and Indian Prime Minister Modi also mentioned how delighted he was to see them. Events such as these bring the community together and allow us to celebrate the cultural and religious diversity of our friends and neighbours.
I’d like to wish everyone a Happy Diwali!