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SA election foreshadows retail reform

shopping aisle supermarketAddressing South Australia’s ‘inconsistent and complex’ retail trading hours regulation will be front of mind for incoming Premier Steve Marshall after voters delivered the Liberal Party a majority in the state’s election on Saturday.

Marshall will lead a majority of at least 24 of 47-seats in South Australia’s parliament, the first time a Liberal government has been formed in the state since 2002.

The result foreshadows reform for retailers that have complained about restrictive trading hour laws in the state, which currently prevent a variety of retailers from trading outside of 11:00AM – 5:00PM on a Sunday and after 5:00PM on a Saturday in the CBD and Suburbs.

Marshall, who has previously dubbed the current laws as “embarrassing” went to the election with a trading hour deregulation policy, and has also promised to institute a broader-pro business agenda.

“We’re going to lower people’s taxes, we’re going to lower their cost of living and we’re going to create more jobs in this state, “Marshall said in the wake of his win over the weekend.

Australian Retailers Association executive director Russell Zimmerman called the election result a win for retailers in the state, particularly in relation to SA’s ‘inconsistent and complex’ trading hours.

“He [Marshall] said he’s going to [deregulate trading hours] so let’s hope he can get it done,” Zimmerman said.

“Its good to see a change of government, generally speaking, after that length of time.

Addressing power prices and payroll tax reform would also be potentially positive results for retailers if Marshall was able to move forward with his agenda, Zimmerman said.

“Incredible increases in costs have really impacted consumer spend, it becomes an inhibitor for people to spend money in the retail industry,” he said.

Marshall said the Liberals would work to support affordable and reliable energy supply, after a tumultuous few years for the state’s electricity grid.

“The people have spoken and spoken in favour of our policies which is to support affordable and reliable energy to ensure that we can meet our Paris commitment, and at the same time ensure that we can keep the lights on and indeed afford to keep the lights on,” Marshall said.

Marshall has also committed to cutting the emergency services levy bill for residents from July 1.

Trading hours reform will “cost jobs”, MGA warns

But Master Grocers Association (MGA) chief executive Jos de Bruin said Marshall’s victory would ultimately cost the state jobs if he moves ahead with trading hours reform.

“It will cost jobs and it will drive unemployment,” De Bruin said.

MGA represents small to medium sized independent grocers across the state, who De Bruin said will suffer if the big supermarket chains are able to trade more.

“We have to stick to certain rules, when the largest supermarkets aren’t able to open it gives smaller to medium sized supermarkets the opportunity to trade,” he said.

De Bruin said he’s not anti-competition, but that small grocers had invested in their businesses under the current system.

“Our members have been working to a set of rules, when government makes rules you invest in your business accordingly,” he said.

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