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Pages tagged "Small Business"

Question: Business Support During COVID-19

18 November 2021

The Hon. R.A. SIMMS (15:14): I seek leave to make a brief explanation before addressing a question without notice to the Treasurer on the topic of business support during COVID-19.

A report released earlier this week found that the amount of vacant retail space in the Adelaide CBD is at its highest level since 1993. With South Australia's borders set to open on Tuesday, Business SA CEO, Martin Haese, has called for the federal and state governments to provide reasonable financial support to those businesses that are forced to close down due to staff being in quarantine. My question to the Treasurer therefore is: what is the government's plan to assist or compensate businesses that will be impacted by COVID-19 in the weeks ahead, and what is the government's plan to reduce shop vacancies in the CBD?

The Hon. R.I. LUCAS (Treasurer): If I could just lower the temperature of question time a little bit and modulate and moderate my voice a little, the second part of the question is relatively easy; that is, the only solution to challenges for job growth and economic growth is actually to adopt the sort of policies this government is adopting to grow the economy and grow jobs.

I would imagine the Greens would support the position this government is putting that there is no earthly reason why our state's economic growth and jobs growth shouldn't at least track at around about the national average over a long period of time. For 20 years, we have tracked at about half or two-thirds of the national average.

If we want to keep young South Australians in South Australia and if we want to attract people to South Australia, we have to make sure that jobs growth and economic growth track at around about the national average during that period. The only sensible way of doing that is to make sure that the costs of doing business in our state are competitive nationally and internationally. We do not have to be the cheapest jurisdiction in the nation or the world, but we certainly can't afford to be the most expensive.

We have to be competitive, because all the other attributes that we have and we love—the fact that we are the third most livable city in the world, the most livable city in Australia, our work-life balance arrangements, the fact that we have a government which is leading the nation and is one of the leaders in the world in terms of zero emissions and renewable energy policies—all of those attractions that we have, all of those things, are inbuilt ticks and attractions for people to want to invest and to grow jobs in the state.

The only solution to the sort of issues Martin Haese and others are identifying in terms of jobs, not just in the CBD but in the regions and in the suburbs as well, is that we have to have an environment that allows people to grow jobs. In the CBD, what we are seeing with the announcement cognisant today, PwC and others coming to the CBD, albeit at Lot Fourteen and the eastern end of CBD Adelaide, nevertheless still the CBD, is thousands and thousands of jobs both now and over the future for people in the CBD. What that does is it gives the capacity for cafes and restaurants and others to do business in the city. That's the challenge that this government has.

I could speak further, but I won't. Not that this was a Dorothy Dixer; this came from the Hon. Mr Simms. It is almost a Dorothy Dixer but I won't treat it as a Dorothy Dixer—I won't on the second part of the question. The first part of the question is, and I responded to that question I think from the Hon. Mr Pangallo earlier in the week, that we recently applied to the federal government for assistance for the relief programs and grant programs provided to Mount Gambier. The federal government said, consistent with their public policies nationally, they are moving away from providing federally funded business assistance. For that reason, in Mount Gambier we went ahead and we funded the Mount Gambier assistance for the period of the lockdown, as a state government.

There is nothing that currently exists in relation to ongoing business support, to answer the question specifically. We will monitor what, if anything, other state governments do. At this stage, we are not aware of any ongoing state government funded programs. We are not aware of any federal government funded programs in relation to the specific circumstances to which Martin Haese and the honourable member have referred. We will monitor it, but at this stage the answer to the question is that we do not have current programs that meet that particular descriptor the honourable member has asked about.


The Hon. R.A. SIMMS: Supplementary: just to confirm, Treasurer, aside from monitoring you are not doing anything in terms of providing any support to businesses at the moment?

The Hon. R.I. LUCAS (Treasurer): No, we actually provided state government funded assistance to Mount Gambier recently. In relation to what might exist today, the answer to the question is we are doing a lot. We are trying to reduce the cost of doing business for everybody so that their businesses can grow. If you are talking about: do we have a grant program for those businesses that are failing and are in trouble? We do not have a grant program at the moment for those businesses that are failing, or closing, or running into specific problems in relation to COVID. I can't be any more explicit than that. It is a direct answer to a direct question.

Christmas Day Amendment Bill

26 October 2021

The Hon. R.A. SIMMS: I also rise in support of this bill. In doing so I want to begin by praising my colleague the Hon. Tammy Franks MLC for her leadership on this and for her long-time efforts here in this parliament advocating for the rights of working people. I also acknowledge the leadership of the union movement in running this campaign, in particular the SDA and the good work they have done in bringing this to the attention of people in this parliament.

As has been stated, over the last 18 months essential workers—that is, people working in our supermarkets, in our petrol stations, our fast food and hospitality outlets, allied health services, our medi-hotels, our aged-care homes—have been working incredibly hard to keep South Australians safe. They have been doing that during this once-in-a-century pandemic and during a once-in-a-century economic crisis.

What do they get in return for their hard work? A piece of coal from the Liberals this Christmas. I am not referring to the climate change policy, the woeful policy that Scott Morrison has announced, but rather the incredibly—

The PRESIDENT: The Prime Minister the Hon. Scott Morrison.

The Hon. R.A. SIMMS: The Hon. Prime Minister Scott Morrison.

The PRESIDENT: Thank you.

The Hon. R.A. SIMMS: I am of course referring to the Grinch-like behaviour of the state Liberal Party and the appalling way that they have approached this issue, and their refusal to recognise the rights of workers and recognise the fact that Christmas Day should be a public holiday for everybody.

There has been a lot said about the benefits of this bill. I will only speak briefly, but I want to read into Hansard some of the stories of people who will be directly affected. There have been some open letters sent to the Premier, talking about the benefits that will flow from this bill for families. I will start with one from Amber, who is a healthcare worker. She writes to the Premier:

Dear Premier,

I am an essential worker at a regional hospital. Throughout all of COVID, I and so many others have gone to work to keep normality and services open.

As life continues to be hard for all families, we essential workers still go to work on public holidays. Like Christmas day. A day when we essential workers would LOVE to be home with our families after everything Australians have endured [over] the last 18 months. But we have jobs to do, and part of what makes our lives a little more worth going to work [for], is the public holiday pay.

That pay helps alleviate a little of the financial burden with the extra pay from working the public holiday. But you don't want to give SA families that. You don't want to help out those families. You don't offer any incentive to hard working people who have gone to work still.

No reward for medical workers, or any workers. No thanks, we know you can't be with your families here is compensation in your pay.

The writer asks:

[Mr Premier] Will you go to work on Christmas Day, while thousands of us do? No, you won't. Will you stand up for the SA people you serve, and give them the public holiday pay they deserve, while you sit at home?

Beth, a Kmart worker, has written:

Dear Premier,

I would…like to know your reasoning for not declaring Christmas Day public holiday, as it should be. Thousands of workers are going to be working that day, and missing out on valuable family time on what is one of the most special days of the year. At a time when we should be at home with our loved ones, and showing them what they truly mean to us, you're more than happy to allow workers to miss out on that time with no compensation.

No amount of money can…compensate for lost family time, but having to go to work and get paid like it's [just another] day of the year is [an absolute] disgrace.

I cannot help but agree with those sentiments; it is a disgrace and it is one that the parliament should put right and we have an opportunity to do that today. It is really disappointing that we are in this position. The Liberals are creating a nightmare before Christmas for South Australian workers and it is time for this parliament to put that right.

Retail Trading Hours

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.

Motion: Green New Deal

9 June 2021

The Hon. R.A. SIMMS (16:13): I move:

That this council—

1. Supports a Green New Deal for South Australia.

2. Notes that 2020 was an incredibly difficult time for South Australians, starting with drought and bushfires, and followed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

3. Further notes that increasing unemployment due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, as well as climate change and rising economic inequality, are key challenges facing South Australians into the future.

4. Calls on the Marshall Government to adopt an innovative jobs growth plan through investing in:

(a) publicly owned renewable energy and storage projects to address climate change;

(b) social housing to help end homelessness;

(c) employing more educators, healthcare workers, nurses and social support workers to ensure all South Australians have access to the care they need;

(d) the expansion of the public transport network to reduce congestion and decrease emissions;

(e) reviving our CBD precinct to support local businesses;

(f) creative industries and the arts; and

(g) care for country and culture.

This motion is calling on this council to support a Green New Deal for South Australia and calling on the Marshall government to adopt an innovative jobs growth plan through investing in a range of measures that would help fight the climate crisis and rising inequality in our state. South Australia should be leading the way with a Green New Deal to change our state for the better. People are angry and anxious because the government has no plan for the big problems that are facing our state. We need to see ambitious and innovative ideas from our leaders and the Green New Deal will do just that.

Many in this place will be familiar with the term 'a Green New Deal'. It was first coined by US Democrat congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (AOC) and essentially creates a bold agenda calling for government action on climate change along with the other social aims of job creation and reducing economic inequality.

What would a Green New Deal mean for South Australia? What would it look like? Many different groups have started to consider how we could harness a green recovery to address some of the biggest issues facing our state and our nation. To put it simply, a Green New Deal is a plan of investment and action to build a clean green economy.

The last 18 months have seen South Australia's economy take a significant hit. From the devastating bushfires that have ravaged parts of our state and the continued impact of the global pandemic to the highest unemployment levels in the country and the ever-present threat posed by the climate crisis, it is clear that now is the time for bold innovative new plans for our great state.

With the state budget just weeks away, and the last one before the 2022 election, I am calling on the government and this parliament to seize the opportunity to rethink our economy and to spend big on new projects and programs that would create green jobs and address the important challenges of our age.

I talked about the fact that this motion is calling on the Marshall government to adopt an innovative jobs growth plan for investing in a range of different measures. One of those, of course, must be publicly owned renewables in South Australia. South Australia's abundant wind and solar resources mean that we are ideally suited to lead the nation and the world with 100 per cent renewable energy, and we should do that by 2025. A renewable-led recovery will create the jobs we need, it will tackle climate change and reduce energy prices.

The Greens' vision for South Australia is one that will make the most of our state's skills in manufacturing and create new jobs for the future, and we know that as we transition away from coal and carbon we can create new jobs in green innovation and renewable energy. We should harness the skills of our state's manufacturing industry for the development of new technologies, things like cutting-edge renewables, light rail and electric cars, and we should be making those things in South Australia.

It is regrettable, of course, that we saw the previous federal Liberal government, led by Tony Abbott, totally deprioritise the support for the automotive industry in South Australia, and really we should be trying to kickstart that industry with new investment so that it can start manufacturing electric cars in a significant way.

We also need a Green New Deal so that we can tackle homelessness and the housing crisis. One of the most pressing issues in this state at the moment is homelessness and housing affordability. We need a housing system that is about people, not profit. Homelessness is not inevitable. We can solve it. Everybody has a right to a roof over their head and a place to call home. It is not acceptable to simply say it is inevitable for people to sleep on the street or that people are going to be sleeping in tents. We need to see leadership from government to ensure that we invest in the housing that we need.

We have seen some wonderful strategies recommended by the Adelaide Zero Project, but we need more of an investment from the government. This is not a quick fix, but we need a long-term housing strategy that will end homelessness in our state. Housing, after all, is a human right. To end homelessness, we need to provide homes for tens of thousands of people on the waiting list, and we can do this by building housing, creating jobs and ensuring that nobody is discharged into homelessness.

As part of a Green New Deal, we need to also consider what we can do to make our society a caring society. The implementation of a Green New Deal is not just about green jobs and the green economy. It is also about investing in other types of work, particularly those types of industries that are traditionally female dominated.

Through the pandemic, we have seen just how essential our caring professions are for our communities, from our healthcare professionals who continue to work on the frontline, to our educators who adapted with flexible teaching arrangements to the pandemic, to our community service workers who continue to support the most vulnerable people in our society. We need to ensure that they are remunerated properly, and we need to ensure that they are supported with more funding so that they can employ more workers.

We also need as part of a Green New Deal to deal with expanding our public transport network. Bigger roads are not the answer to traffic congestion. We in the Greens have a different vision. We need a well-funded and well-functioning public transport system that gets people where they need to go quickly, reliably, safely and cheaply. We need greater investment in bikes and walking infrastructure that will give South Australians the freedom to choose riding or walking as a safe, easy option and to leave their cars at home.

A few weeks ago, I introduced a bill to establish a walking and cycling commissioner to encourage walking and cycling as modes of transport in our state, to promote the health, environmental, social and economic benefits of this, and to prepare and to promote strategies to make walking and cycling inclusive for everybody in South Australia. It is really regrettable, I think, that we have not seen the investment in cycling infrastructure that we need in South Australia, in particular, in the City of Adelaide.

Sadly, the City of Adelaide has spent over $400,000 on planning the east-west bikeway only to knock it on the head under the leadership of Alex Hyde from the conservative wing of the Liberal Party that dominates town hall. I think that is really regrettable because South Australians, in particular people in the City of Adelaide, are desperate for cycling infrastructure to be rolled out. A Green New Deal would not only fund more bike lanes in the CBD area, it would also encourage greater use of public transport through free or subsidised tickets. This would not only help reduce congestion in the city, it would also encourage more people to come back into our CBD, which would be a positive knock-on effect for local businesses that are currently struggling.

We know that our CBD has been hard hit by this pandemic. Many businesses have been forced to close their doors, and many city-based employees are still working from home. A Green New Deal would ensure that we prioritise a plan that continues to enliven the city, extending the free wi-fi network, supporting entrepreneurs, growing small bars and live music, and setting some clear renewable energy targets for the city.

I know that a number of small businesses in the CBD are struggling and will be very alarmed by the Marshall government's plans to deregulate shop trading hours. They will be very alarmed that they are not going to be able to compete with Coles and Woolies and the big players, and that that is going to punish them and damage their business. The Greens certainly stand with them in that struggle.

As part of a Green New Deal, we need to look at creative industries. Creative industries are the engine room of our economy, and yet they were the first industry directly hit by the impacts of the pandemic. In the last 18 months, we have seen our cultural and creative sectors suffer enormous damage due to restrictions on public gatherings and performances and exhibitions that were cancelled in the interests of public health. Of course, I make no criticism of the government for doing that—it was necessary in terms of a public health response—but we do need to ensure that our arts sector is now supported in the days ahead because that has had a significant impact.

The knock-on effect of this has been substantial for our broader South Australian community, and for our economy, not least the many thousands of people who are employed in related industries that are driven so strongly by the arts here in our state. Those industries include tourism, hospitality, regional affairs and community businesses—all these things rely on a thriving, creative industry.

While South Australia has fared fairly well, and we can consider the success of things like the Adelaide Fringe Festival earlier this year, we must not lose sight of the fact that the disappearance of the Australian creative sector will have a major social, economic and cultural impact on our state both in the short and the long term. We know that the arts community have not been eligible for federal government support through JobKeeper, so that means they have been really hard hit by this pandemic.

Finally, a Green New Deal would also look at how we can care for country and culture. When I talk about caring for country, I am talking about First Nations people's approaches to land and water management. For First Nations people, it is increasingly documented that caring for country is linked to maintaining cultural life, identity, autonomy and health. The diverse environmental activities to which First Nations people contribute have positive outcomes for climate mitigation, biodiversity monitoring, the protection of endangered species, landscape health and more. It is for exactly that reason that a Green New Deal is really important because it would ensure that this knowledge and experience is at the forefront of policy and decision-making.

This is our chance to start thinking about how we can reshape our state, how we can create a fairer and more sustainable South Australia, how we can become a productive leader and how we can be a state that actually tackles the climate crisis and ensures that everybody has what they need to live a happy and healthy life.

We need to think differently. That has been one of the lessons of the pandemic and the ensuing economic crisis. We need to think differently and now is the time for us to do that. Now is the time for us to commit to a Green New Deal. South Australia can create a cleaner, fairer future for all of us, and I urge all members of this council to support the motion.

Debate adjourned on motion of Hon. D.G.E. Hood. 


Notice of Motion: Green New Deal

27 May 2021

Mr President, I give notice that on Wednesday the 9th of June 2021 I will move that this council:

1. supports a green new deal for South Australia,

2. notes that 2020 was an incredibly difficult time for South Australians starting with drought and bushfires and followed by the COVID-19 pandemic,

3. notes that increasing unemployment due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic as well as the climate change and rising inequality are key challenges facing South Australians into the future,

4. calls on the Marshall Government to adopt an innovative jobs growth plan through investing in:

a. publicly owned renewable energy and storage projects to address climate change,

b. social housing to help end homelessness,

c. employing more educators, healthcare workers, nurses and social support workers to ensure all South Australians have access to the care they need,

d. the expansion of the public transport network to reduce congestion and decrease emissions,

e. reviving our cbd precinct to support local businesses,

f. creating industries our creative industries and the arts and,

g. care for Country and Culture.