Upon the release of the Productivity Commission’s final report on the Australian retail industry, the Gillard government will establish the Retail Council Australia.

To advise the government on the future of the sector, the council will work closely with the Council Australian Governments where it will be able to raise collective concerns on behalf of the retail industry.

The council will be chaired by the Assistant Treasurer Bill Shorten and will involve foundation members including Margy Osmond (ANRA), Russell Zimmerman (ARA), Peter Strong (COSBOA) and Christopher Zinn (CHOICE).

Bill Shorten, Assistant Treasurer, said the Commission’s inquiry has been undertaken to better understand the challenges the retail sector faces and how it can prosper.

"I look forward to initially chairing the Council and will make an announcement about additional members in early 2012. It will include thought leaders from the retail sector," he said.

"The Government appreciates the current pressures being felt by retailers and the long-term challenges facing the industry, which plays a vital role in providing employment and economic growth in Australia."

ARA executive director Russell Zimmerman said the Retail Council of Australia was a positive move forward for the industry as it provided a direct line to policy makers.

“We are pleased to see the Government putting due emphasis on the $240 billion retail sector with the formation of the Retail Council of Australia,” he said.

“Council members will include ANRA, who represents the big end of the retail sector, ARA representing small and medium retailers, COSBOA as well as the Shop Distributive and Allied Employees Association (SDA), which together truly represent the retail industry.

“The crucial advantage of the Council is that the Government will now have one point of contact for dealing with retail issues, including those highlighted in the Government’s response to the draft report such as tenancy, wages and the LVIT.”

The government will also establish the Taskforce to investigate options to improve the efficiency of processing low value imported parcels. The Taskforce will be chaired by Bruce Cohen, supported by Jim Marshall and Professor Caroline Chan, and will provide an interim report in three months and a final report to the Government no later than July 2012.

The Taskforce will consult the views of expert stakeholders, including the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service, the Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service; Australia Post; the Conference of Asia Pacific Express Carriers; and other stakeholders, including consumers, small business and representatives groups such as the Fair Imports Alliance.

Terms of reference will be released in January 2012.