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Question: Shop trading hours deregulation during COVID-19

The Hon. T.A. FRANKS: Noting that I won't get supplementaries, will the Treasurer please outline the health advice given to inform his actions to discontinue the previously COVID-related deregulated shop trading hours of past months? When was the advice given and by whom? In what form was it given: verbal or written?

The Hon. R.I. LUCAS (Treasurer): We had both verbal and written advice over a long period of time, which led to the decisions to extend the option of freedom of choice for 30-day periods. For example, on 19 March, the now highly regarded public health officer, Dr Nicola Spurrier, was asked a question by a journalist, 'Do you support the deregulation of shopping hours for social distancing purposes?' That's quite an explicit question. Her response was:

From a clinical and public health perspective, this means that when you go to the shop, because it's open for longer, you're less likely to be in a crowded space and this is certainly very good from a public health perspective in terms of that social distancing message.

On the same day, 19 March, Dr Michael Cusack, the Acting Deputy Chief Public Health Officer, on FIVEaa was asked a question, and he said:

I think it's really good news that we have extended opening hours…effectively that will help support practices of social distancing…that is a good move.

So both the public health officer and the Deputy Chief Public Health Officer are both on the public record in relation to the public health advice which helped to guide me in my difficult decisions in relation to providing a 30-day exemption.

Subsequent to that, the process was that, as we went from each 30-day period onwards, we would make contact through the health minister's office with the public health advisers, saying, 'Does your position remain the same?'—which was quite clearly explicit in relation to supporting it—and the advice we received for the subsequent two periods or so was that, yes, their advice remained the same.

Until last week, or whenever it was that I chose not to extend it, their view, at that particular stage when we sought the advice by way of email correspondence, was that given the easing of restrictions they no longer supported it. Consistent with the public position I put—as I am true to my word—and the position I put in this particular house, the only reason I was making this decision was on the basis of public health advice.

Contrary to the cynics amongst my very good comrades and friends in the shoppies union who didn't believe—my very good friend Joshie and co., didn't believe that I was getting public health advice to that extent, or that if I got it to the contrary that I wouldn't change my position. As soon as I got advice by way of email that, because of easing of restrictions, they no longer supported it, I indicated publicly, by way of statement, that given that public health advice no longer supported it I wouldn't extend it for another 30 days, even though my position, putting aside public health advice, is that I continue to remain an advocate for the flexibility of freedom of choice in terms of shop trading hours.

What I will say in concluding is that, given we had four months of extended trading hours, the sky didn't fall in, the world didn't end, the sun shone again each morning and no-one traded 24 hours a day for seven days a week, as was being alleged by some of my political opponents. Independent traders, Drakes and Romeos and some of the other smaller independent retailers, chose to trade extended trading hours, after 5pm on Saturdays and Sundays, before 11 o'clock on Sunday mornings and on some of the public holiday trading options that transpired during this particular period. They survived.

Workers who wanted to work worked, those who didn't want to work didn't work. Those who didn't want to trade didn't trade, those who wanted to trade traded. Hallelujah! The world did not end, and it was a fair indication that if in the end the parliament is prepared to support it, the doomsayers that predict the end of trading in South Australia have seen the inaccuracy of those particular views.

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