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Speech: Retail Trading Bill

The Hon. T.A. FRANKS: I rise as one of two speakers today from the Greens to speak to the Retail Trading Bill 2021, also with a view to the fact that we have a Referendum (Retail Trading) Bill on our Notice Paper as well. I think it is no surprise that, 200 days before an election, we are here again in this council debating shop trading hours and Rob Lucas the Treasurer's attempt to deregulate shop trading hours.

The then Liberal opposition promised that a Marshall Liberal government would, in the first 100 days, bring forward to this council a bill to deregulate shop trading hours. Of course, that was one of the promises that they broke pretty early, because they did not get a bill into this council in the first 100 days of this parliament. In fact, when asked why we had no piece of legislation to debate, it was said that parliamentary counsel had not been able to draft the bill because it was far more onerous than the Treasurer had imagined it might be.

Of course, after that failed promise of a bill in the first 100 days, when we finally did receive a bill to debate shop trading hours, it was all or nothing, just as this bill is today. I am not quite sure what was so complicated about that, but what I am cognisant of is that the Treasurer did not put in time before the election to make sure he had a bill ready to go, that nobody was working all hours 24/7, day and night, to get that bill before us in those first 100 days, that we did not require our staff here in the parliament or indeed our MPs to sit additional days of parliament to get that bill debated or at least onto the Notice Paper in that first 100 days. But what they do require in this particular bill is to give those who work in these industries affected fewer protections and less quality of life than they currently have and less certainty with what they have to deal with.

I am proud that South Australia has one of the least duopoly driven supermarket landscapes in the country. I am proud that we have the small players who are able to get in and have a chance. I am proud that those small players, in particular, drive the purchase of South Australian foods and products on our supermarket shelves—something that would not happen if the duopoly and the big players got their way.

What we do know is that they would get their way if they were able to, and that is why they want these changes. What we do know is that while we are told that the small players will not be forced to open, and that is technically true, we know the reality of a competitive environment is that the big players will make them open or drive them into the ground.

I actually do not take this bill seriously. I have to say, here we are. It is groundhog day. It is like a Looney Tunes cartoon. We have the sheepdog and the wolf clocking in and clocking off. That is what we are dealing with here. This is not a serious attempt at a piece of legislation. This is, from the Treasurer, an offer of all or nothing full deregulation, take it or leave it, and take it to a referendum.

This is the new added extra to try to give it a little bit of newsworthiness because, quite honestly, this story has grown old and tired in this parliament. We know what the numbers are at this point. We know that the Treasurer has not come and sat down with any of the key stakeholders and said, 'Perhaps we could look at tweaks around a Sunday or some public holidays or a Saturday going later.' There has been none of those discussions. It is still this idea of all or nothing, deregulation, take it or leave it.

Why does the Treasurer do that? Why does the Treasurer take on a free gift with purchase of a referendum at the next state election? That is to make it new and interesting and somehow campaignable. This is actually just about the election that we have in 200 days. This is just an election stunt. This is nothing more than the Liberal Party and the Marshall government, but driven by their Liberal Party strategists, thinking that this is a great idea to take to the next election. They are not serious about reform here today.

There are no amendments on the table to discuss areas that Business SA and other stakeholders have raised of possible points of compromise which are well known now in the public debate to be areas where compromise could reached. That is not on the table for us today. What is on the table is yet another stunt bill. It is really ludicrous to expect the Legislative Council to take this piece of legislation seriously when it is presented in such a fashion.

I do echo the Hon. Emily Bourke's concerns and ask the question of the Treasurer: where is the actual public health advice that supported using the COVID pandemic and the declarations under the various acts, including the Emergency Management Act and the Public Health Act, in those early days to extend shop trading hours? Where is that public health advice that was used by the Marshall government? I ask for that advice to be tabled with regard to the second reading response by the government today.

I also note that the elevation of this matter to the terms of its facing a referendum to the South Australian people would be the first such referendum in some 30 years. I think it would be the first such referendum in my entire time of living in this state. I think it is extraordinary to treat the people of South Australia with such contempt that we need a referendum on this matter where it is put as an all or nothing proposition, no compromise entertained—and, indeed, no compromise attempted to be reached within the parliament of the state—before that is taken to a referendum.

What I do reflect on is that the Treasurer will soon have all the time in the world to shop. I wish him well with his shopping. I do not think he is going to get much traction with this in the council today and I certainly do not think that this is the electoral winner that the Liberal Party thinks it is.

When people understand the impact that this could have on small businesses, on those workers who currently have some certainty and some security about not being dragged into work at all times of the day or night—regardless of their caring obligations or their other life, or indeed being able to play sport on the weekends and other parts of our community fabric—once you have those conversations with people, as the Hon. Emily Bourke has noted, it does not take long. It takes a few minutes into a conversation about this issue for people to move from wanting to shop to understanding what it is to work in these industries and what it is to treat those people with fairness and dignity.

While you still have your rights to shop and ability to shop, and I think currently we have the balance pretty well right, there are some areas of compromise on the table and the Greens would consider some of those that have been put out there. I understand the Labor opposition leader has publicly stated that he would be willing to have some conversations about compromise.

The member for Croydon was, of course, part of a compromise deal previously reached with Business SA prior to his election to this parliament, so you would think that he is probably going to be up for having conservations in the future in his now role as a member of this parliament. But the Treasurer is not interested in those conversations. The Treasurer is interested in cynical, political trickery.

I do not propose to revisit the arguments that I have put to this chamber before, and I refer those who are either avid readers of Hansard or are following this debate today online to my previous remarks. This has been an issue, and I have noted this before, that does pique public interest. Everyone has an opinion. People are interested in this issue. I will give you 10 out of 10 for political strategy there in terms of the Liberal Marshall government's thinking.

However, once you have those conversations, people shift. Once you actually talk about sitting down and having a compromise then maybe you might get the reform that some, who you purport to represent, seek but right now you are not doing them any service at all by presenting an all or nothing argument. It is few and far between in terms of the lobby that does want full deregulation.

Most lobbyists that come and meet with us actually—they may be in strong support of reform but they are also in strong support of that being reached by compromise and conversations, not presenting the parliament with these all or nothing bills and not taking these issues to a referendum. It is utterly a joke. It is contemptuous really of the time of this parliament and the people's lives who have been put to such levels of anxiety and uncertainty because of this ongoing Looney Tunes debate.

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