MAJOR traders in regional towns will be forced to shut for four days over Easter - the first time in decades - because the Palaszczuk Government forgot to add three words in its amended trading hours laws.
The shocking blunder in the lead-up to the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games will rip money out of the pockets of businesses and workers in 15 sites across Queensland unless the Government amends its new Bill in Parliament.
The Government is now scrambling to fix the issue, with Industrial Relations Minister Grace Grace telling The Courier-Mail last night that it was a mistake and the problem would be fixed before Easter.
Turnbull Government frontbencher Matt Canavan and MP for Groom Llew O'Brien slammed the Palaszczuk administration, demanding it get its house in order for families and workers.
It can be revealed Ms Grace only become aware of the problem when the National Retail Association wrote to her last Friday, warning of "severe consequences on shoppers, employees and retailers in the upcoming Easter long weekend".
"Specifically, changes to the Act will mean that major stores in some regional areas will be forced to close for four days straight over the Ester weekend, something that has not occurred in several decades,'' chief executive officer Dominique Lamb wrote.
"As you might imagine, the Easter weekend is one of the busiest shopping periods of the year.
"Being prevented from undertaking grocery shopping will be a very significant and potentially costly convenience for consumers in affected areas.
"It also removes work opportunities for many retail employees, work that must be voluntary under the legislation and attracts lucrative penalty rates for those who choose to perform it.
"There is significant disruption to grocery supply chains for retailers.
"At the very least this will result in considerable wastage of perishable items and in the worst-case scenario, could leave regional areas without some grocery lines should resupply activities be disrupted by weather or external events."
The Courier-Mail can reveal by removing the words - "including Easter Saturday" from the new legislation caused the drama.
Ayr, Blackwater, Bowen, Charters Towers, Childers, Chinchilla, Cloncurry, Goondiwindi, Kingaroy, Longreach, Mission Beach, Mount Isa, Murgon, Proserpine and Roma are all at the mercy of the blunder.
Ms Grace, who will not be able to amend the Trading (Allowable Hours) Act until February 13 when Parliament resumes, said the oversight was not intentional.
"This was an unintentional drafting omission, which was not immediately identified by stakeholders, in Committee nor when the Bill was debated in the House,'' Ms Grace said.
"When it was brought to our attention, and after working with the National Retail Association, we determined it would be amended and therefore fixed before Easter.
"I would hope this would receive the support of all parties.
"It was never the intention of government to not include this part of the original order in the new Act."
Ms Lamb last night praised the Government for committing to fix the matter, however, Senator Canavan said the mistake was another example of incompetence.
"From the people that can't make the trains run on time, nor implement a basic ID nightclub scanner scheme, comes their latest blockbuster stuff up,'' Senator Canavan said.
"Now people in regional Queensland may not be able to go to the shops for four days straight. I reckon the Easter bunny would do a better job at running this state.
"This monumental stuff up has the potential to cause major heartache in regional Queensland. "Many people could miss out on 4 days of pay. How can the self-described Labor Party make a decision that would put people out of a job. The Labor Party needs to fix this and fix it fast."
Mr O'Brien said it would not be fair for the regions to be punished.
"Regional businesses and consumers must not be inconvenienced over Easter because the State Government failed to understand the impacts of its own legislation, Mr O'Brien said.
"The Queensland Government must act quickly to fix this legislative mess so that confidence is restored to the sector, regional retailers can get about their business, people who want to work over Easter can, and regional consumers can shop for groceries and other essential items."
Ayr mother Kristy Wassmuth said without the change families would have to plan ahead for Easter.
"You'll have to be organised, in the past the major shops have been open on the Saturday," she said.
"There will probably be people that will be caught out. Maybe there will be people who will be put out if they don't know the shops will be closed.
"The Government should let people know the reason behind it (the change).
"The shops are normally very busy on a Saturday."