The Marshall Government will continue to campaign for greater freedom of choice in shop trading right up until the next election in March, with the popular reform critical to further turbo-charge the state’s ongoing COVID recovery.
As expected, former Shoppies union boss Peter Malinauskas’ Labor Party has denied hardworking South Australian families and businesses the opportunity to shop and trade when it suits them, voting down the Government’s Retail Trading Bill and Referendum Bill in Parliament today.
Treasurer Rob Lucas said Labor’s ‘short-sighted, backward move’ applied an effective handbrake to the state’s growing economic momentum, with the potential to cost jobs and millions in additional wages as employees missed out on the opportunity for extra hours.
It also made it harder for bricks and mortar businesses to compete with the rapid rise of online shopping.
“The contrast is clear – Premier Marshall wants to give South Australians freedom of choice to make their lives easier and create jobs and opportunity for local businesses to thrive… ex-union boss Peter Malinauskas and his Shoppies union mates want SA closed for business,” said Mr Lucas.
“This is particularly concerning at a time when we are doing everything in our power to turbo-charge the state’s economic recovery from COVID – with more South Australians employed now than at any other time in the state’s history.
“But we know there’s much more work to be done, which is why we will be campaigning on this popular issue right up until the next State election in March.
“We believe South Australians in Adelaide suburbs want to continue to be able to shop on public holidays such as Boxing Day, Adelaide Cup Day and Easter Monday.”
Mr Lucas said Business SA’s change in public position* on the issue had no impact whatsoever on the Government’s commitment to reform, noting the organisation’s CEO Martin Haese had been a long-time opponent and campaigner against deregulation.
“Business SA is entitled to a new view on shop trading and other matters, such as swimming in the Torrens, but the Government respectfully disagrees with them on both,” Mr Lucas said.
“With great respect, our policy isn’t designed for Business SA – it’s designed for the overwhelming majority of South Australians who want greater freedom of choice.”
Mr Lucas said recent research by the Shopping Centre Council of Australia and the National Retail Association found 9 in 10 South Australians would support smaller retailers as much, if not more than before, in the event of shop trading reform.
“South Australians will continue to support independent retailers because they provide a particular niche in the market,” said Mr Lucas.
*Business SA, in 2018, commissioned the University of South Australia’s Institute for Choice to undertake a ‘comprehensive survey of consumer preferences for shop trading hours.’
The report, called Charter 2018 (Open for Business), said: “With online retail sales having grown 90% in the past five years, and the recent introduction of Amazon still making its mark, deregulating shop trading hours is critical to helping level the playing field for South Australia’s bricks and mortar retailers.”