By Paul Hayes

SYDNEY, NSW: The Australian Retailers Association (ARA) has congratulated Julia Gillard on her appointment as the new Australian Prime Minister, welcoming her statement that she ‘believes in consultation’.

“The economic, environmental, social and workplace challenges facing Australia deserve ongoing, open and two-way consultation with retail and business industry groups before major government decisions are made,” said ARA executive director, Russell Zimmerman.

“And the ARA looks forward to working closely with the new Gillard Government.”

The open-arms welcome is in contrast to past criticism of Gillard, a previous Minister for Workplace Relations, from former ARA executive director, Richard Evans.

In late 2008 Evans savaged Gillard over ignoring an ARA submission regarding bonus payments accrued through working outside of normal business hours, saying Gillard’s solution was “not flexible enough for the modern retail market”.

Despite welcoming Gillard into the top job, Zimmerman voiced a subtle caveat regarding the importance of the retail industry and what type of treatment he wants it to receive.

“The ARA expects the Gillard Government to always consider the important role the retail sector plays as Australia’s largest employer and the role small business plays as the engine room of the nation's economy.

“To minimise disruption to governance, we would like the announcement of new ministries and departments to be made sooner rather than later.”