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Message from the CEO: 19 September 2016

September 16, 2016

It’s been a big week for the NRA with our spectacular Rewards for Excellence Gala on Wednesday night in Sydney, and former CEO, Trevor Evans MP delivering his Maiden Speech to the Australian Parliament.

The 2016 NRA Rewards for Excellence Gala was held on Wednesday night at the Sofitel in Sydney, with the 14 award categories recognising exceptional businesses from across our industry – from fashion boutiques and family-run small stores, to large retail franchises and fast food outlets.

I would like to congratulate all award winners, particularly Michel’s Patisserie Toronto for taking out Franchisee of the Year as well as the night’s ultimate honour, Supreme Award for Retailer of the Year.

I’d also like to congratulate the large number of employers who took the time and initiative to nominate their valued employees.

The Retail industry employs over 1.2 million people throughout Australia and 1/3 of these people are aged between 15 to 24 years.  As such, we have a responsibility to the youth of this country that many other industries don’t. The retail sector plays a pivotal role in employing young people, which is often their first foray into paid employment, where they are able to pick up key skills that assist them throughout their professional career.

This is why the NRA has an award specifically dedicated to young people in the Young Retailer of the Year award. I’m pleased to announce that the 2016 winner is Andrew Bentzen, Store Manager at Supercheap Auto Capalaba, who encompasses everything an innovative and evolving retail industry is all about. The competition for this award was fierce and we all should be proud to be part of such a wonderful, dynamic industry which recognises the talent of young people.

However, if the retail sector is to continue giving career opportunities to young people, our governments and decision-makers must focus firmly on measures to support employers to flourish and be in a position to create employment.

This topic was covered by my predecessor, former NRA CEO, Trevor Evans MP, during his Maiden Speech to the Australian Parliament this week. Trevor used this valuable moment to explore a number of retail-related issues, including the paralysing effect of a flawed and ineffective penalty rates system. Specifically, he identified that if each shop front employed just two more employees that our unemployment rate would be zero. I hope this call to action is heard by government and I will certainly be making every effort to ensure that our industry’s voice is heard loud and clear.

Quite often, all penalty rates serve to do is to force small business owners to bring their family to work or to shut their doors from trade altogether. A young, casual-employee can see their shift for a particular day cut completely if the small business they work for deems it too expensive to afford their labour for the day – and everyone loses. Small businesses forgo the opportunity to grow and receive revenue, employees miss out on receiving a wage, and consumers purchase elsewhere.

I commend my former colleague and good friend Trevor for dedicating so much of his Maiden Speech to highlighting retail sector’s contribution to the Australian economy, and its varied challenges, and I know that he will continue to champion these issues throughout what we believe will be a very long tenure as a Member of Parliament, just as he did when he was NRA CEO. If you’re interested in reading Trevor’s speech you can access a transcript here.

Have a great week.

Dominique Lamb, CEO.

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