Local Government (Mobile Food Vendors) Amendment Bill

Mr DULUK (Davenport) (12:53): I was wondering about the genesis of this proposed legislation. Where did it come from? Then I looked at the member for Kaurna who is sitting in the Premier's seat—and he wants to be the Premier. This is his audition to caucus that he has a brilliant idea.

 

 

The Treasurer has failed in his unemployment-abating measures and the member for Kaurna has gone to the Premier and said, 'If you let me sit in your seat, I'll bring a brilliant bill to parliament and we will have a food truck-led recovery in South Australia.' That is the only reason why I think we have this bit of legislation. Passing this legislation will not produce one extra food truck. It will do none of that. It will not tell an entrepreneur who wants to start a business that it will make it easier for them per se.

If we pass this legislation today, South Australians are not going to wake up tomorrow and say, 'Right, we can now get a single permit and I'm going to get a food truck happening in the City of Prospect,' or Mitcham or Unley, and all of a sudden we are going to have thousands of new jobs. That has been alluded to in the media and the like, that the deregulating of food trucks will see that. In fact, I dare say it might even have unintended consequences.

I do share the member for Kaurna's support of food trucks and acknowledge that they have an important part to play in our economy. Ultimately, a food truck is a great business that sees people experiment and set up a small business as they like. Contrary to the member for Fisher's comment's, we actually are the party of small business, and being lectured by those opposite about the importance of small business and doing it tough is just phenomenal. I look at all the members on the Labor Party side, and hardly any of them have run a small business or been involved in small business. They are just members of unions.

They even have former Liberal members protecting the SDA in speeches to the house, and suddenly this is under the guise of good legislation. As we all know—certainly as we on this side of the house know—excessive red tape and overregulation are significant barriers to business growth for both existing businesses and new entrants, small businesses in particular being most affected. Complying with red tape and bureaucratic requirements is time consuming and costly, eroding business productivity and negatively affecting financial performance.

With record unemployment, underemployment and low levels of economic growth and, of course, with our population growth stagnating, the government comes up with the idea for food trucks. It does not want to talk about South Australian unemployment being 6.8 per cent as of August 2016, about youth unemployment being at almost 15 per cent and a participation rate of about 62 per cent. It does not want to talk about high unemployment in the southern suburbs. It wants to talk about food trucks.

Of course we have to explore options to help business to operate, grow and create jobs, and certainly improving an often inconsistent and burdensome regulatory environment would be a positive step in achieving this end.

Encouraging opportunities for growth and jobs is also critical; indeed, South Australia has long had an entrepreneurial spirit that must be fostered; as the member for Schubert said, the first food truck was in about 1870. We need to support new markets and new entrants, but we have to strike the right balance, like we have to strike the right balance in all that we do in this place. We must balance the interests of existing businesses and new entrants, and if we swing the pendulum too far in one direction we risk undermining our goal— and that is for economic growth and job creation.

Creating an environment that encourages new entrants may potentially cause the exit of many existing businesses and, as I said, this is the unintended consequence. Mobile food vendors should not be discouraged; in fact, they should be supported, and I am a strong proponent of innovation. I believe food trucks enable entrepreneurs not only to enter the hospitality market but also to make a valuable contribution to it.

Whilst I support food trucks, I do not share the member for Reynell's contribution that food trucks strengthen our community. When I am out there in the community, and we talk about our wonderful volunteers and what they do, people certainly do not say, 'Well, I live in a wonderful community because we have fantastic food trucks.' I think that is gilding the lily a little bit too much.

However, food trucks provide vendors with an affordable and flexible setting to test the water if they want to enter this new market. They can test their product ideas without a commitment to costly and long-term leases, they can learn business skills and explore the right business model for them, and extraordinary growth can ensure this can happen. Of course, this has already happened in the food trucks sector. We have seen food trucks enter the South Australian market relatively unencumbered, and they are growing. There is no evidence that this legislation will increase the number of food trucks.