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"They were warned": Darley kills Govt's food trucks reforms

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Days after Jay Weatherill conceded the high-level nuclear waste dump proposal was “dead”, a last-minute parliamentary misstep has killed another of the Premier’s signature policies – statewide food trucks reform.

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InDaily can reveal the MP with the deciding vote on the Government’s food trucks legislative overhaul has now vowed to oppose it.

Almost a year ago the Government announced the sweeping reforms that would have forced local councils to grant an unlimited number of permits to mobile vendors and place a cap on the cost of permits.

Since then, it has been trying to convince the State Opposition, independents and minor parties to pass the Bill thorough parliament.

As reported last month, opposition from the Liberal Party and the Australian Conservatives in the Legislative Council means Xenophon Team MLC John Darley holds the deciding vote.

He told InDaily this morning that “bully” tactics by Labor and non-cooperation from the Local Government Association had convinced him to kill the Bill.

“I won’t be supporting it – simple,” he said.

Darley said the Government brought on a vote in the Legislative Council last Thursday which pushed the Bill into committee – the penultimate parliamentary stage where MLCs debate it line-by-line – against his wishes and while he was out of the chamber.

“They were warned what the consequences will be – so bad luck,” said Darley.

“When we get to third reading [final stage], I will oppose it.”

Asked whether there was any possibility he would change his position before then, he said: “No, no, no; not at all.

“They [the Government] decided it’s their way or the highway [and] I wasn’t in the chamber at that stage.

“They tried to bully – well it doesn’t work.

“Those tactics don’t work.”

The Government announced the overhaul last year after Weatherill repeatedly warned the Adelaide City Council against moves to restrict the number of food trucks allowed in the CBD.

The Premier used the issue to wedge the Liberal Party, arguing the Opposition was standing up for big business interests against those of small-scale entrepreneurs.

InDaily asked the office of Kyam Maher, head of Government Business in the Legislative Council, why the Bill was put to a vote.

We have yet to receive a direct response, however a Government spokesperson told InDaily: “Food trucks have been a big part of the revitalisation of our city.

“Once again, Steven Marshall has shown that he opposes everything and stands for nothing.”

Liberal MP David Pisoni told InDaily “that’s nonsense”.

“This is very damaging for the Government’s reputation and for Chris Picton [who was shepherding the Bill through parliament] in particular,” said Pisoni.

“He wasn’t able to convince the Upper House of the case … he’ll now end up failing to get his Bill through the parliament.

“This Bill was flawed … it was more regulation, not less.”

But operator of food trucks festival Fork On The Road Joe Noone told InDaily that Darley’s decision was “not good” for the industry.

“Now it’s on individual councils to decide whether they want to support different forms of entrepreneurialism,” he said.

“This [law] would have presented new opportunities.

“It’s a pity there hasn’t been an opportunity to [pass the Bill, however] … the industry will continue to be what it is.”

A recent Fork on the Road food truck gathering. Photo: supplied

He said there remained plenty of opportunity in the “status quo” for young entrepreneurs looking to set up food trucks.

“Fork On The Road will look forward to continuing and supporting those budding entrepreneurs,” Noone added.

Aside from the Government’s decision to push the Bill forward, Darley said the Local Government Association (LGA) had backtracked on a commitment to develop draft location guidelines for food trucks under the new legislation before it passed.

“They’re not prepared to provide it – so bad luck,” he said.

“[LGA chief executive officer] Matt Pinnegar agreed on the Friday [but] on the Monday decided not to do it.

“They can get stuffed as far as I’m concerned.”

InDaily contacted Pinnegar, but he declined to comment.

LGA executive director of public affairs Lisa Teburea said in a statement this morning: “This Bill would transfer more responsibilities to local government and therefore create additional costs to councils.

“If this legislation was to pass through the Parliament, we would provide support to our members by preparing model guidelines.

“However, we’re not prepared to help push through a law that would add yet another regulatory burden on councils.”

Labor frontbencher Chris Picton, who had negotiating on the Bill for months, is in China and unavailable for comment.

Greens MLC Tammy Franks, who, along with Dignity Party MLC Kelly Vincent and Labor, supported the legislation, said the parliament should have been able to deliver the reform.

“The Greens would look to see food trucks across the state,” she told InDaily.

“These are small businesses that deserve … support. We should have been able to find a way though.”

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