Retail negotiations resume | Border surveillance

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REGULATED: Dave Foster, director of Foster’s Foodland, has been a long-time opponent of deregulated shopping hours and says allowing supermarkets to open 24 hours a day will shut down one of three Millicent supermarkets. ?

By Raquel Mustillo

TREASURER Rob Lucas has reignited the debate over the state’s “archaic, confusing and chaotic” store trade laws that prohibit two of the Millicent supermarkets from opening on Sundays and holidays.

Despite the Millicent community voting twice to keep the city’s rare regulated purchasing regime and the failure of retail reforms in parliament in 2018, the state government has announced plans to organize a statewide referendum on the deregulation of trading hours.

Millicent is the only regional city in South Australia where supermarkets over 400 square meters – Woolworths and Foster’s Foodland – cannot open on Sundays and holidays.

Both stores are scheduled to close at 6 p.m. most weekdays and 5 p.m. on Saturdays with only one supermarket – Millicent IGA – able to trade without restrictions.

Speaking to The Border Watch, Mr Lucas said the state government was not in favor of keeping the current legislation because it facilitated a “completely random implementation of store opening hours in all levels”.

“Every year I get a request from the Millicent Business Community Association to allow Millicent to have extended trading hours for Easter Saturday and the Geltwood Festival because the laws everyone said they voted for didn’t. not allow, ”he said.

“It seems like it’s a crazy way to run South Australia that the treasurer, who is in Adelaide, has to publish a gazette to allow two Millicent stores to trade on Easter Saturday and festival day.

“The stores should be in a position where if they want to trade on festival day or Easter Saturday, they can trade and if they don’t want to trade, they don’t have to.”

Mr Lucas stressed that any deregulation of store opening hours would not force Millicent retailers to open, but rather provide consumers with more choice and store owners more flexibility.

“Our proposal is not to allow exemptions for a small area here and a small area there, but to have a large set of rules and the big test will be whether people will want to shop or not,” did he declare.

“If people don’t want to shop at Foster’s, they’ll go elsewhere.

“If Foster’s doesn’t want to trade, he doesn’t have to.

The government’s referendum bill will be presented to the Upper House tomorrow (Thursday), but it is unlikely to be passed by the Legislative Council with Labor, indicating that the party will not support the proposal.

Greens, SA-Best and Advance SA MP John Darley – who voted with Labor to end the government’s proposed reforms in 2018 – also said he would block the proposed referendum.

But the government’s steadfast stance on deregulation has angered workers at independent supermarkets in the city, with Millicent IGA manager Sukhchain Dhaliwal saying changes to the status quo “will kill us.”

Mr Dhaliwal said the majority of profits for George Street retailers came from its prolonged business activity, estimating the store to be three times as busy on a Sunday as on any other day.

“A lot of our sales are on Sundays because the other days of the week the other supermarkets are open and obviously they have a bigger store, they have more choices and people do a lot of their shopping there. purchases, ”he said.

“We normally have around 10 people working on Sundays, but if the other supermarkets are allowed to start operating on the same days, we would only have four people working.

Foster’s Foodland director Dave Foster – who vehemently opposes any changes to Millicent’s store trading hours regime – said he was not surprised by new pressure from the government to deregulate the state.

“I’m not at all surprised because the liberals didn’t listen to Millicent from the start, they completely ignored us,” he said.

“Deregulation will have a huge impact on the city, because three supermarkets in a city of this size are not sustainable.

“We will be spreading the staff over the seven days and our payroll could be slightly higher on a Sunday until one of the supermarkets closes, which is inevitable.”

Long-time deregulation advocate Woolworths hailed the government’s proposal, with a spokesperson saying “the referendum will allow all of these views to be heard and give South Australia voters the final say “.

Labor MP Clare Scriven said the opposition remained opposed to total deregulation and saw no way to support the referendum.

“Total deregulation is designed to help Coles and Woolies increase their dominance over local retailers like Foodland and IGA and hurt local small businesses,” she said.

“Millicent has expressed opposition to the total deregulation of shopping hours because locals know it would force the closure of one of Millicent’s small supermarkets.

“A statewide referendum would see the opinions of residents overwhelmed by those of the capital.”

MacKillop MP Nick McBride said the state government was aware of his long-held views on maintaining the status quo, which he said was based on supporting retailers and the growing community. are opposed to deregulation.

However, he said he fully supports the need to deregulate shopping hours in South Australia.

“I will watch with interest the conduct of a referendum,” he said.


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