catallaxy files

catallaxy in technical exile

Frank the rebel trader

with 2 comments

In his obituary for Milton Friedman, Andrew Norton discusses his first encounter with the CIS which had produced a book called ‘Free to shop’ on trading hours deregulation and the incident that instigated debate on this issue in Australia, way back in the Paleolithic (early 80s) when Andrew was still in high school:

The following year I saw a newspaper article about a book with a title very similar to Friedman’s, Free to Shop. In my enthusiasm for free markets, shop trading hours had become a bit of a cause. The Victorian government was persecuting Caulfield hardware store owner Frank Penhalluriack for the appalling crime of opening his shop on Sundays. He eventually went to jail for it. Free to Shop , which set out the case for deregulating trading hours, was published by an organisation I wasn’t yet aware of, The Centre for Independent Studies, but I sent off for it – and so my long association with the CIS began.

Out of curiosity I googled the name ‘Frank Penhalluriack’ and discovered that he has his own wiki entry:

    In the State of Victoria in the 1980s, fair trading laws used to deny retailers from trading outside certain hours on a Saturday, and not at all on a Sunday. A select few types of retailers were exempt from this (for example, milk bars and service stations). The name Frank Penhalluriack became synonymous with the term rebel trader, as he consistently ignored these laws, opening his hardware store outside of the legislated times. Melbourne talkback radio host and social commentator Derryn Hinch quipped at the time, “You can get a screw on Sunday but you can’t get a screwdriver.”, in reference to the fact that the Victorian government was legalising prostitution at the same time they were enforcing the weekend trading laws with particular attention to hardware stores.
    Officers from the department of Fair Trading repeatedly fined Penhalluriack for his breaches of the law, and the whole issue gained considerable local media attention. When Penhalluriack refused to pay, the courts compelled the police to auction his stock to raise funds to pay the fine; the auction was a farce, with grateful shoppers paying many times the market price for the goods auctioned. Eventually he was charged for his refusal to pay half a million dollars in fines associated with his trading hours. His attempt to serve a subpoena on then premier John Cain at a public appearance led to a scuffle with a yelling crowd of about 30 Right to Life demonstrators. Penhalluriack was convicted and spent 19 days in HM Prison Pentridge.

Not only that but according to the Wiki entry, Frank continued his campaign against trading hours regulations as recently as 2003:

    Victorian businesses say they lost tens of millions of dollars in revenue because of the Bracks Government’s controversial Easter Sunday trading ban.
    And in a survey of 300 Victorian businesses, an overwhelming majority said the Government should not be able to tell retailers when to trade.
    Hardware operator Frank Penhalluriack, who said he traded on Easter Sunday in breach of the law, said trading hours should be the responsibility of the shopkeeper. But if the State Government was committed to having regulated shop trading hours, it should leave the regulation to local government, he said.

The Wiki entry may be incomplete as the latest item on Frank is from 2003 (which it incorrectly cites as 2005). So I don’t actually know if the old fighter is still going. He may well be.

Written by Admin

November 21, 2006 at 11:30 am

Posted in Uncategorized

2 Responses

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  1. What a guy! Sounds very gutsy. I do like the ‘screw and screwdriver’ gag, too. Shows Hinch was capable of humour when he felt like it.


    November 22, 2006 at 7:46 am

  2. An everyday hero.


    November 21, 2006 at 10:41 pm

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