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Thursday, 24 May 2012
Page: 5615

Dr SOUTHCOTT (Boothby) (12:35): As I get around my electorate and talk to small business the thing that I increasingly hear about is the tough conditions that small business is facing and the fact that there is just no confidence—no confidence to invest, no confidence to plan for the future and very tough conditions in the economic climate.

Small businesses are known as the backbone of our economy, but what we see is a government who are intent on crippling small business—the mum and dad shops that we all rely on. The Labor Party are failing small business right across the country. Their promise of one-in, one-out small business regulation has been a complete failure. The Labor Party have introduced 18,089 new regulations to cripple our small businesses but have only repealed 86. This makes it essential that we get rid of the red tape, that we remove red tape from small businesses. It is something that we have committed to doing in government.

The world's biggest carbon tax is only 37 days away, and this budget will do nothing to restore confidence. It will increase the cost of everything that small businesses need: the cost of their electricity will go up 10 per cent and the cost of gas will go up nine per cent. All of this will have an impact on small business. The best thing that the government could do to restore confidence and improve the conditions of small business would be to dump the carbon tax.

Small businesses are struggling, and that is why I recently held a small business forum in Boothby with the shadow minister for small business, the member for Dunkley. The forum was held in Blackwood and was well attended by a number of concerned small businesses in the electorate. The response from the meeting was very much along the same lines—concern around the fragile state of the economy, concern about the rising costs of doing business and concern over the carbon tax. While the member for Dunkley was visiting the electorate we also took a walk through Westfield Marion, a major shopping centre in my electorate. This was a perfect opportunity to touch base with small business owners in the electorate, and they raised similar concerns.

While on the topic of Westfield Marion, I have had a number of small businesses contact me, concerned about the decision by Westfield to implement paid parking at the centre. The local traders in the centre are extremely concerned that the paid parking proposal is going to put further pressure on their retail sales. They are concerned that paid parking is going to have a significant negative impact on foot traffic through the centre. Fewer people will be fewer sales, and this is at a time when small businesses are already struggling.

As well as small business local residents have voiced their disapproval of the paid parking proposal, suggesting that it will lead to increased congestion in the suburbs surrounding the centre. I am concerned about this proposal, particularly coming at a time when small businesses are really struggling and really doing it tough. I am very disappointed that the South Australian government allowed this proposal to go ahead, given that they operate the GP Plus Health Care Centre at the site and given that they own the SA Aquatic & Leisure Centre. This is something that the South Australian government should have put the line through, and instead it allowed it to go ahead. The thing that small business now needs most of all is a return to confidence and a return to a government which is looking forward to the future and not simply focused on its own survival.