PERTH, Australia: Opposition Leader Eric Ripper is facing a community backlash after voting down longer shopping hours in WA - with thousands signing an online petition for change.

The petition, quietly launched to push for extended trading hours on specialist website this week, had 3798 signatures in favour of a Labor rethink by 4pm today.

The petition produced by a group calling itself progressionforWA, says: "We the people of Western Australia and beyond respectfully ask the Australian Labor Party of Western Australia and The Liberal Party of Western Australia to support the Retail Trading Hours Amendment Bill 2009 which was introduced to the Parliament of Western Australia."

When Labor and the Nationals voted against Tuesday's Bill, which would have seen shops able to trade until 9pm on weeknights,  an angry Premier Colin Barnett was vocal in his scorn.  “I don’t see why it’s such an issue," he said on 92.9 this week.

"It’s an extra 12 hours a week of shopping…I cannot explain it…I’ve been arguing this for 25 years…welcome to Perth, welcome to the 1940s”

However, Mr Ripper said that since the people of Perth had voted No in a 2005 referendum on the issue, it was his duty to vote it down.

Mr Ripper has also said his party had not detected strong support among voters for Mr Barnett's changes.

Mr Barnett was not convinced, saying: “Let me give you a tip Eric, it’s actually up to you. You’re an elected member of Parliament, make a decision, do your job”.

He went on to tell listeners that if they supported extended trading hours and wanted to be heard, they must call their local MP and say “get real, we want the choice”.

The people behind progressionforWA hope their petition will prove more persuasive.

Source: Maxine Brown:,21598,25957535-2761,00.html