The jobs figures released yesterday by the Australian Bureau of Statistics were very welcome news for the economy, and for the retail sector.

The ABS reported that 312,000 more Australians were in work in December compared with the same time 12 months ago, with most of those people finding full-time work.

Additional Australians in work means more money circulating in the economy, and good economic news will no doubt help to further strengthen consumer confidence. So these figures will hopefully flow through to continued growth in retail in coming months.

2016 is a year in which we will have an election for the Federal Government. The National Retail Association (NRA) will be strongly engaged in the political debate in the lead-up to the election, to ensure all candidates and parties are aware of the issues affecting employers.

Already we are in discussions with other national business groups as part of an overall election year campaign. You may recall the Too Big To Ignore campaign run by the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry ahead of the 2013 election, which highlighted the impact of penalty rates on small employers. Employer bodies such as the NRA will be collaborating on a similar campaign ahead of this year’s election.

Clearly penalty rates will be an issue, as they were in 2013, particularly with both the Government and Opposition moving to make workplace relations one of the election battlegrounds. The NRA will also seek to highlight the importance of continuing to remove unnecessary rules and regulations for the retail sector. We’ve had some wins in this space during this term of the Parliament, including in simplifying product labelling requirements for some imported products. But there is a lot more to be done in this area, to ensure Australian labelling laws are in line with the rest of the world (removing the need to relabel products at the point of entry).

As always, we’re also interested in hearing your views on the important issues that we want the politicians to be thinking about ahead of the election (and acting on, once it’s over). Please contact me with your thoughts.

Finally this week, I remind you that the NRA is able to provide expert advice on leasing and tenancy, through our wholly-owned law firm NRA Legal. If you are facing a lease renewal during 2016, or if you are considering expanding into a new premises, make sure you take some expert advice on the latest leasing trends and pitfalls. Contact NRA Legal for advice on 1800 RETAIL (738 245).