Supporting small business covid motion

Mr DULUK (Waite) (12:28): I also rise to make a contribution to this debate. I agree with a lot of the sentiments from all sides of the house that small business is indeed the backbone of the economy, and they have done it incredibly tough for the last 12 months because of COVID.

I have said in this house now for over 12 months and in all the deliberations in my community that small business and businesses of all sizes need consistency in decision making from Government and in the case of the matters that are before us at the moment in terms of dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic.

Snap closures and lockdowns make it very difficult for businesses to survive. I can only imagine being a florist in Melbourne last weekend, where you are preparing for your second busiest trading day of the year (Valentine's Day) and all of a sudden Dictator Dan changes the rules and your small business struggles. As I said before, there is the need for a consistent approach to really support the hospitality, retail and tourism sectors. These snap circuit-breaker lockdowns just do not work in terms of supporting the economy.

The University of Adelaide's South Australian Centre for Economic Studies recently urged the state government to consider a more consultative approach with industry in response to the COVID-19 pandemic to avoid the disruption and losses by the hospitality sector. The South Australian Centre for Economic Studies estimates that the three days of lockdown we had in November and the forced shutdown of the economy and subsequent restrictions through to 31 December 2020 saw a loss of more than 12,500 jobs.

Turnover reduced by some $100 million in that sector. There was $7 million to $10 million in wasted good and beverages, $11 million to $15 million in lost spending for tradies and contractors and $15.5 million in lost accommodation revenue. These statistics are staggering for the economy and the result of an emergency management regime that is in place today. Back in November (and I said this at the time as well) it was the inconsistences in the decisions made by the Transition Committee.

For example, during the November lockdown, if you were a butcher you could open; if you were a fruit and veg retailer, you could open; but if you were a bakery, you could not open. If you were a fishmonger, you could open; if you were a newsagency, you could not open. That was quite common. In my community, there are five of those exact shops in a row in the strip shopping at Blackwood Shopping Centre: three could open during the lockdown and two could not.

Those inconsistencies are at the heart of what small businesses want to see removed. They want to work with government for the betterment of their businesses and indeed the whole community. I know a number of local businesses in my community were forced to absorb the costs of the COVID lockdown. There was lost revenue, lost stock and a feeling of anxiousness amongst retailers.

You can imagine the anxiety business owners have felt over the past year and continue to feel into 2021, especially those who work in the hospitality, retail, events and tourism sectors and all businesses associated with these industries, such as wedding photographers, venue spaces, caterers and the like. I think one industry that has also been unduly affected over the past 12 months is the small bars, city venues and nightclubs. These businesses are drawcards for much-needed tourism in our state and something we should continue to promote.

Whilst it is fantastic that the government has the accommodation vouchers scheme and I think is doing a pretty good job in supporting the accommodation sector, the night tourism sector is an important part of our economy as well. It has been almost a year since dancing in South Australian venues has been banned. You can even dance in Victoria. A lot of people have contacted my office including many of my younger constituents concerned about this. There is also now a discrepancy between whether dancing is allowed at a function in a CBD venue as opposed to a nightclub.

A question put to me by venue managers is: what is the difference in movement in a nightclub compared to a busy gym, a fitness centre, an indoor exercise class or the storm that hits Bunnings every Saturday morning? How different is the experience compared to a busy pub, where people are brushing shoulders as they walk to the toilet or the bar? Some 8,000 people recently signed a petition addressing the need to bring back dancing. It is so important, I think, that there is a clear pathway for this industry. I echo the words of Harrison Raphael, co-owner of Hindley Street venue Loverboy, who said:

"There doesn't seem to be a light at the end of the tunnel and I'm just after some kind of roadmap for us as an industry to see a way for us to get back and a bit of transparency as well."

As the federal government's JobKeeper regime rolls out and comes to an end next month, it is so important that we do all we can in South Australia to remove roadblocks to South Australian businesses that want to employ and do the right thing and get on with business.

One industry that has done so well in dealing with the difficulties of COVID-19 and restructuring their businesses has been the hotel industry. It was really fantastic to join the hotel industry last week. Members of this house were there. The Attorney-General was there in her capacity as the responsible minister. I know the member for Lee and my colleagues in the upper house were also there. It was great to see such an important industry, an industry that directly employs tens of thousands of South Australians, with many casual workers and young people in that industry.

Importantly, not only do they directly employ tens of thousands of South Australians in their venues, but they also have interaction with the food industry, the catering industry, the accommodation industry, the wine industry and the manufacturing industry. It is such an important part of our society and community in terms of generating jobs and also what it does in the trade training area. I know the Minister for Innovation and Skills has been doing a lot in that space with the hospitality industry.

I want to give my congratulations to the many winners of the 2020 AHA Hotel Industry Awards for Excellence in various categories over the last year and to the Marion Hotel for the Best Overall Hotel award in South Australia. In talking to many venue owners, publicans and people who work in the hospitality industry, their desire is to see a roadmap for continual government support in the sector; it is so crucial and very important. They are grateful that both the member for Lee and the member for King, in her amendments, have presented the opportunity to put this matter to debate today.

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