Liberal leader Steven Marshall visits Murray Bridge to talk jobs, growth, business costs

Catch-up: Member for Hammond Adrian Pederick, store manager Josh Maczkowiack and state Opposition Leader Steven Marshall chat about the issues facing businesses at IGA Fresh Westside. Photo: Peri Strathearn.
Catch-up: Member for Hammond Adrian Pederick, store manager Josh Maczkowiack and state Opposition Leader Steven Marshall chat about the issues facing businesses at IGA Fresh Westside. Photo: Peri Strathearn.

Jobs, growth and the high cost of doing business were the talking points for state Opposition Leader Steven Marshall during a whirlwind trip through the Murraylands on Thursday.

After a quick meeting at Meningie’s Cheese Factory Museum, Mr Marshall met up with Member for Hammond Adrian Pederick and visited Thomas Foods International, IGA Fresh Westside and the city's council.

He also sought out public opinions at the Marketplace shopping centre and met with local medical authorities to discuss their hopes for an upgrade of the Murray Bridge hospital's emergency department.

But costs were a theme of his talks with business owners.

IGA supermarket manager Josh Maczkowiack said energy was one of the biggest he faced.

His next power contract had threatened to increase by up to 108 per cent, and two major blackouts in the past year had proven costly.

"The first one was not so bad," he said.

"The second one hit us hard – we lost 10 grand in stock."

In response, he said he was looking at investing in solar panels, LED lighting or even diesel generators.

He also mentioned staff turnover, high insurance excesses, a restrictive payroll tax threshold and competition from larger supermarket chains as problems for his business.

The one area of Liberal Party policy Mr Maczkowiack disagreed with was deregulation of shopping hours in metropolitan Adelaide and some regional centres.

"When that came in (in Murray Bridge), we lost staff right away," he said.

"I never saw my dad (Bruce, manager of IGA Swanport) for the next three years, he was at work every day of the week."

Restrictions on opening hours currently apply in Mannum, Tailem Bend and Lameroo, as well as other centres around the state.

Shops there must close at 6pm on most weekdays, 9pm on Thursdays and 5pm on Saturdays.

For historical reasons, sightly different rules apply to car and boat retailers and hardware and furniture stores.

If elected next March, Mr Marshall said a Liberal government would aim to reduce power and water prices, halve the Emergency Services Levy, cap council rates and cap NRM Levy rates.

It would also invest in regional infrastructure and employment by updating and renaming the current Regional Development Fund, and by creating a $75-million-per-year Regional Roads and Infrastructure Fund which would be paid for through higher taxes on mining royalties.

"What we want to do is get the state government settings right to maximise opportunities for growth in jobs and population," he said.

"We don't accept that businesses like this IGA, it's going to be tougher and tougher for them to compete.

"We want to be lowering costs and putting more money into people's pockets so they can spend more in regional communities."

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