1996 Sunday trading throughout Victoria

Image by Markus Spisk on Unsplash

Sunday trading was introduced on ten Sundays per year in 1991. In 1992, stores in the Melbourne CBD were permitted to trade on Sundays and this was extended to selected ‘tourist precincts’ in 1993. In 1996, retail trading in Victoria was effectively deregulated, with the exception of certain public holidays: Christmas Day, Good Friday and Anzac Day.

Victoria was the first of the States to allow unrestricted Sunday trading, although the two Territories – Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory –  had no legislation restricting trading hours. The retail trading arrangements for the various States and Territories as of 2001 can be found here.

Prior to the lifting of restrictions in Victoria, there had been a long campaign by certain retailers for reform of retail trading hours. The most notable case was that of Frank Penhalluriack, a hardware retailer. During the 1980s, milk bars and petrol stations were among the very few retailers permitted to trade on Sundays.

Penhalluriack claimed that retailing was a public service and should not be subject to restrictions. He opened his hardware store seven days a week, openly flouting the laws. He was repeatedly arrested and charged but refused to pay fines and even spent time in Pentridge Prison. He enjoyed support from the public and from the media and his continued battle with the law embarrassed the Victorian government.  His campaign played a significant role in changing the law to permit Sunday trading.

Extended retail trading hours further casualised the workforce – in 1992, 30% of 17-year-old boys and 40% of 17-year-old girls had a part-time job, mostly in retail or in fast food.

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