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Lucas vows crackdown as shop trading deregulation defeated

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Treasurer Rob Lucas says the Marshall Government will crack down on enforcing the state’s “silly” shop trading laws after his deregulation push was defeated in the Upper House today.

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With the Legislative Council crossbench voting, as expected, with the Labor Opposition to thwart the Liberals’ shop trading reform push 13 votes to 8, Lucas says he will now “have a look at Christmas trading hours” to ensure the regime he sought to overturn is adhered to.

“We’ll have to look at enforcing the silly laws we’ve got,” he said.

“It’s a silly law but we’ll need to ensure compliance.”

A recent government audit suggested several areas of prospective non-compliance by independent retailers, but Lucas denied he was seeking to extract political “revenge”.

“There’s a process we need to follow in terms of natural justice, so we’ll just have to follow that through,” he said.

In parliament, he declared the doomed vote “not the end of the battle [but] the start of a long, relentless, continuous campaign” ahead of the next election, for “sensible economic reform and freedom of choice”.

“Because 75 per cent of South Australians want to see this sort of choice,” he added.

Lucas said the defeat of his Retail Trading Bill was “a disappointing day for South Australians who are desperate for greater freedom of choice’’.

But Opposition Leader Peter Malinauskas said “a majority of South Australians voted for parliamentarians in the upper house who are opposed to this” reform, and insisted “there’s a value to the legislation as it stands” in terms of protecting independent retailers against the supermarket “duopoly”.

Responding to Lucas’s vow to crackdown on breaches, he said: “How Rob Lucas conducts himself in terms of technicalities is up to him [but] small businesses I’ve spoken to all want to comply with the law.”

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