Ex-Liberal MP Duncan McFetridge has drawn another distinction between himself and his former colleagues, speaking out against the SA Opposition’s policy on public holiday shop trading hours.
Mr McFetridge quit the party after he lost pre-selection for his seat of Morphett and will run as an independent against the Liberals at the March election.
His electorate includes Glenelg, which is one of Adelaide’s few suburban centres in which shops are allowed to open on public holidays.
The Liberals are using Labour Day to again push for expanded shop trading on public holidays, but Mr McFetridge said he does not agree with his former party’s view.
“As a member of shadow cabinet for over 12 years, I was locked into that party position,” he said.
“I’ve been liberated now and I’m able to say what the Jetty Road main street traders down here want, what the council wants, what I want, and that is to protect the people down here.”
Mr McFetridge has already voted against the Liberals in Parliament, supporting the Labor Government’s controversial bank tax policy.
Opposition wants ‘special provisions’ ended
The retail union is also opposed to further changes to trading hours, saying the current balance is right.
“Small businesses don’t support the push, workers don’t support it, and it’s bad for the CBD,” said Josh Peak, assistant secretary of the Shop, Distributive and Allied Employees’ Association (SDA).
“The problem with shop trading reform is it really gives a free kick to big businesses who obviously have a competitive advantage, can afford to trade and drag small business out with them.”
But Opposition spokesman Rob Lucas said the Liberal Party would not be changing its policy.
“This is a fundamental difference between [us and] the Labor Government which is controlled by the shoppies’ union, who control obviously the right faction in the Labor Party and control the Weatherill Government,” he said.
“Our policy is governed by a simple principle — if traders want to trade, if shoppers want to shop and there are enough workers who are prepared to work, then shop trading hour laws shouldn’t prevent that.
“The shoppies’ union never answers the question, neither does the Government, as to why there is a special provision for the CBD, for Glenelg and for most of the regional areas.
“People who want to shop in Marion or in Tea Tree Gully or Noarlunga, for example, are for some reason prevented.”