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Wednesday, 17 December 1941

Mr COLLINS (Hume) .- I support the remarks of the honorable member for Richmond (Mr. Anthony) with regard to the abolition of the late shopping night in country towns. I was prompted to ask a question of the Attorney-General (Dr. Evatt) to-day in connexion with a proclamation which I understood was to be issued. Although special precautions may be necessary in towns near to the coast, the position in inland towns, particularly in agricultural areas, is different. Especially at this time of the year considerable hardship and inconvenience may be caused to people in country districts if they are not permitted to purchase their week's provisions on Saturdays between the hours of, say, 6 o'clock and 8.30 in the evening. Many of these people work the whole of the Saturday morning, and sometimes into the afternoon, and by the time they return to their homes and are ready to go into the town, it is sometimes too late for them to finish their shopping before six o'clock. Most workers in the country work late in the summer in order to harvest as much of their crops as possible.

Mr Fadden - There is no late shopping night in Queensland.

Mr Curtin - The interjection by the Leader of the Opposition is a complete answer to the honorable gentleman's representations. There are States larger in area than New South

Wales, and containing big agricultural communities which have no late shopping night. A late shopping night is not necessary.

Mr COLLINS - I disagree with the Prime Minister.

Mr Anthony - There is no reason why the Commonwealth Government, in exercise of its national security powers, should abolish the late shopping night.

Mr COLLINS - I am not concerned that Queensland has abolished the late shopping night, but I am concerned with any interference with the general course of business in country towns, and with the usual and customary freedom of people to purchase their goods on Saturday evenings. I hope that consideration will be given to this matter, so that people in the country districts of New South Wales particularly, who are feeling the effects of business stagnation because of the exodus of people from the country to the city and the call-up of men for military service, may not suffer unnecessary hardship.

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