A Barossa food producer has taken the unusual step of protesting against the policies of his politician son over shop trading hour deregulation.
Franz Knoll founded Barossa Fine Foods and has lent his support to a campaign opposing the deregulation plans of the State Government, which includes his son Stephan, who holds several ministerial portfolios.
After the Liberals won the March election, Premier Steven Marshall claimed a “mandate” for his party’s deregulation policies, including increased trading hours on weekends and public holidays.
“Stephan’s position is exactly the same as the entire Liberal Party and that is we want to deregulate shop trading hours,” Mr Marshall added today.
Stephan Knoll tweet: Deregulating shop trading hours will create jobs and provide a level field for all businesses. Dad and I have been disagreeing about this policy for years, I will use the next few family dinners to try and change his mind!
But Labor, the shop employees’ union (SDA) and independent retailers are against the proposed changes and have begun an advertising campaign against them.
At today’s launch, Franz Knoll said while he respected his son’s position, businesses including his own would become more expensive to run if the changes go ahead.
“I’ve said I’m against deregulation and that’s a Government policy and we’re allowed to differ,” he said.
“We have political parties because we have differences of opinions.
“The objective is always to come out and to come at what is a best outcome, and that varies according to every circumstance.”
Mr Knoll said his business would need “at least 10 customers per hour per person” to be able to afford the enhanced trading hours being proposed.
Retailers will be ‘forced to trade’
The Government has committed to introducing amendments to the Shop Trading Hours Act, and claims up to 80 per cent of South Australians are in favour.
“Many stores in our prime shopping districts are not able to operate on Sunday mornings, public holidays, or be open past 5:00pm on weekends,” a policy document states.
“These changes will provide an enormous boost to local business, greater choice and flexibility for consumers, and more opportunities for South Australians working in retail.”
Premier Steven Marshall (L) says frontbencher Stephan Knoll (R) supports the Liberal position. (ABC News: Nick Harmsen)
Mr Marshall said allowing more flexible shop trading hours would lead to major economic benefits.
“If we deregulate shop trading hours, we’ll have more jobs,” he said.
“The Liberal Party’s legislation, which will be in the Parliament very soon, does not force anybody to open but what it does provide is choice.”
But critics of deregulation argue that smaller retailers will lose their remaining competitive advantages, and warn that some will be driven out of business.
“They’ll be forced to trade, they’ll be forced to open their doors, because if they don’t they’ll lose the market,” SA Independent Retailers CEO Colin Shearing said.
“The owners will just have to throw their keys in.”
Mr Shearing said deregulation would lead to changes in consumer behaviour which favour the major supermarket chains.
“If the Liberals do deregulate, this will just play into the hands of the big guys — the Woolies and the Coles and the big shopping centres,” he said.
“Where those big Coles and Woolies have set themselves up, they have spread their footprint and swallowed small businesses.”