I've been trying to avoid writing this blog - my normally low blood pressure tends to sky rocket when it comes to politics - but... the Premier has announced his intention to introduce extended shopping hours by regulation because he couldn't get a majority of Members of State Parliament to pass legislation approving it. Parliament can disallow the regulations but the Government intends to introduce them shortly so they will be in force for about two months during the Parliamentary recess.
This is quite extraordinary in my opinion.
In Western Australia a few years ago we had a referendum in which we were asked if we, the voters of the State, wanted extended retail trading hours. We said no - not for the first time. Since then the major retailers have conducted a campaign to have trading hours extended. According to them people don't have long enough to shop, they want choice and - the one that reduces me to helpless laughter every time I hear it - tourists won't visit Perth and/or Western Australia because the reason they come here is to shop until they drop. We live in a very expensive State and it will stay that way. We are isolated and everything that comes here has high transport costs tacked on to it. Why would anyone come here to shop when there is all of South East Asia pretty much next door where goods are infinitely cheaper?
The other arguments are just as flawed. Unless you work seven days a week twenty four hours a day - which is impossible - anyone with a modicum of intelligence can shop and have their needs satisfied as the shopping hours now stand.
There is another highly insulting argument advanced. It's the old 'everyone else is doing it so we should'. There's a saying I remember from my childhood. Whenever I tried the 'everyone else is doing it/wearing it/ buying it' I was asked 'If everyone else was jumping off a cliff would you do it?'. Obviously not. So instead of falling for the 'change for the sake of change' argument or because everyone else is doing it may be we should think it through and decide for ourselves if it is to our benefit or not.
So should we change our relaxed lifestyle, the thing that attracts people to live and visit here, because other parts of the world have? Well actually we (that is the people of Western Australia)were asked that. We thought about it and we said 'No.'
This is why I have gained considerable respect for the leader of the National Party in this State. When the Liberals tried to push the change in retail trading hours through he announced that the Nationals would not support it. This is a politician respecting the will of the electorate as demonstrated by the referendum result.
The Premier, who leads a coalition government, meaning the party he leads doesn't have the numbers to govern in its own right, sees it as progress. I see it as him forgetting that a politician is supposed to be a representative of the electorate, not to tell the electorate what to do according to his personal views.