The Millicent Business Community Association (MBCA) is concerned about the proposal for a state-wide referendum on shopping hours. MBCA chairman Lee Morgan said the group was mindful of the community views in opposition to deregulation with the last survey facilitated through the Wattle Range Council in 2017.
Mr Morgan said this was consistent with the views of the Millicent community when it was previously consulted in about 2006. “A state-wide referendum amounts to a blanket view of the total South Australian population and does not necessarily reflect the Millicent community view,” Mr Morgan said.
“However, we note that shopping habits have changed somewhat with increased purchases via the internet, especially through COVID. “Our demographics in our community has changed with hundreds of properties sold and hence many new residents in the last few years.
“The Millicent community will need to ultimately weigh up the sustainability of business (and possible consequences) should supermarkets be open seven days a week. “Instead of a referendum, the Millicent Business Community Association believes that it would be better for the government to directly consult with the Millicent community rather than applying a provocative approach of applying a ‘blanket’ view through a state-wide referendum.
“The recent State Government released ‘Regional Development Strategy’ recommends government to work collaboratively to drive local solutions on issues that affect regional communities. “The government’s announcement proposing a referendum, contradicts this recommendation.”
Member for MacKillop Nick McBride issued a statement on the issue. “I fully support the need for deregulated shopping hours in our state,” Mr McBride said. “The Treasurer Rob Lucas is aware of my long-standing views on keeping the ‘status quo’ in Millicent.
“This is based on supporting retailers and the community, who have been against de-regulation. “The question of if a referendum is to be held would, initially have to pass through the Upper House. If it is defeated in the Upper House, it will not proceed to the Lower House. “I will watch with interest to see the progress of the question of the referendum.”
The five crossbench MPs in the Upper House all oppose the referendum as does the Labor Opposition. Shadow Regional Development Minister Clare Scriven said the 2017 survey in Millicent found almost 80% favoured the status quo.
Ms Scriven claimed deregulation would favour two of the state’s major industry players at the expense of the independents. She said Millicent people were fearful of the closure of one of the supermarkets if deregulation occurred.
Mr Lucas said national retailers have come out in support of the popular ‘long-awaited’ reform, which would allow all shops -regardless of their floor-size or location – the option of opening any day of the year at any time except Christmas Day, Good Friday and Anzac Day morning.
“We know the overwhelming majority of South Australians want more flexible, convenient shopping hours, with several polls conducted as recently as Tuesday all finding majority support,” Mr Lucas said. “We also welcome the huge vote of support from major retailers who are publicly backing this job-creating reform.
“They are urging the Labor Party and the crossbench not to deny South Australians greater freedom of choice, insisting retailers want extended trading to better cater to consumers’ changing needs.”