26 August 2021
The Hon. R.A. SIMMS (15:48): I welcome the opportunity to also put on the public record my opposition to this push to deregulate shop trading hours in South Australia. As has been stated, this is something that will have a terrible impact on small businesses in our state. It is a free kick for Coles and Woolies and it is a kick in the guts for the small business sector in South Australia. But do not just take my word for it, do not just take the word of the Greens for it, or the word of the Labor Party or the other crossbenchers. What does the peak lobby group representing the business sector in South Australia have to say about it? What do they have to say?
I had a look in today's paper—and it should be noted that Business SA is the go-to group for the Liberal Party when it comes to business policy. That is the group from which they seek their counsel, and the CEO of Business SA is a leading businessperson in his own right, a highly respected South Australian, indeed the former Lord Mayor of the City of Adelaide, with whom I had the pleasure of working many years ago. He is a highly respected person and somebody who has run many successful businesses in his own right. What does he have to say about it on behalf of Business SA, the peak body representing the business sector in this state, from whom the Liberal Party seek political counsel? He has said:
What got the board over the line—
in terms of their new position in opposition to the Liberals' policy—
was the somewhat unsung impact that total deregulation would have on the supply chains of the shopfronts.
There are thousands of businesses that get a start through independent retailers and if they lose the ability to get that start, it’s quite a significant impact.
What else does the Business SA charter say in this regard? They have released this today via an article in The Advertiser, and I am quoting from that. They said that with further liberalisation in the current environment there would need:
…to be a balance to ensure local independent retailers and their local supply chains can remain viable against national and multinational players which are better placed to absorb the higher costs of weekend and public holiday penalty rates.
In other words, this is going to have a terrible impact on the small players, and it really is a free kick for the big end of town, which we know the Liberal Party are all about.
So why on earth are they putting this forward when Business SA, the peak body from whom the Liberals take all their advice on business policy, has disavowed this toxic policy? I can only assume the last ones standing will be the Property Council and Daniel Gannon; I am sure he will be singing its praises. There is not anyone out there—
The Hon. K.J. Maher: No, he will be turning too.
The Hon. R.A. SIMMS: He is going to dump it.
The Hon. K.J. Maher: He will be the next one to turn.
The Hon. R.A. SIMMS: He will be dumping it next. There is no-one out there in the community who actually supports this. It is opposed by the union movement. It is opposed by the business sector. Maybe the Property Council are the last ones standing, but they will be the next ones to dump it. So why on earth would the Liberals be putting this forward? Could it be that after just 3½ years they have already run out of ideas? Could it be that after 3½ years they are already running on empty when it comes to a vision for this state?
Back in a previous life, I remember being in the Senate on the days prior to the double dissolution election, that ill-fated double dissolution election that was called by Malcolm Turnbull, one of the many duds that the Liberal Party have sent to The Lodge over the last decade. Well, he had no vision for our country either, and I remember turning up to the Senate each day and looking at the Notice Paper, and what did I see? A blank sheet when it came to government business.
I am feeling a groundhog day here, as I look at the threadbare agenda of the Marshall government. After just 3½ years, what have they done? They have gone back to the cupboard and thought, 'What have we got sitting around? What's the frozen pizza we can pull out?' And it is this old chestnut that we have tried time and time again, a policy that has been knocked back by this parliament in the past, a policy that has been opposed by business leaders, union leaders, members of the community. What do we do when we are out of ideas? We go back to that old frozen pizza, we stick it in the microwave and out it comes. That is what we have seen here today with this old chestnut, the deeply unpopular and unsuccessful policy that has been promoted by the Treasurer.
I do want to make a few comments about the Liberal Party's obsession with referendums. They are very fond of referendums. Indeed, the last time the Liberals were pushing one—and, again, I mentioned the great dud that was Malcolm Turnbull; he loved referendums, particularly when it came to the rights of marginal people in our community. Of course, he subjected us to the pointless and highly divisive plebiscite on marriage equality.
Now it seems workers' rights are going to be subject to an opinion poll on behalf of the Liberals, such is the contempt with which they hold working people. It is a disgrace, it is a waste of this council's time, and it is, I think, treating working people with complete contempt. This is the party, supposedly, of small business, yet it is happy to kick small South Australian businesses in the guts in the middle of this pandemic.
This is the party that supposedly stands for families, yet it is happy to support a policy that will make it very difficult for families who are working in small business. Really, this is pure ideology; that is all this is about. This parliament can see through it, the South Australian people can see through it, and really it is time for the Marshall government to go back to the drawing board and to come up with some ideas, because this is a complete joke.