Mr PEDERICK (Hammond) (12:03): I rise to speak to the motion by the member for Colton:

That this house commends the Marshall government for scrapping payroll tax for all small businesses in South Australia, and recognises all involved in small and family businesses for their contribution to our state and economy.

Many thousands and thousands of businesses get up every day, run their own business and take all the risk, and then, as well as taking all the risk in managing their family business, they have the costs—and for the costs they have to endure, I take my hat off to them all.

I come from a farming background. We have many thousands of farm operations right across the state. As farming has done over time, it is either get big or get out, and we have quite big entities operating in farming, having to employ quite a few people, notwithstanding the size of equipment that has come on board and the risk that people take just in the agricultural sector in that regard.

I have mentioned it in here before when you have brand-new machinery now—and not everyone operates with new machinery, I get that—topping out at over $1 million per item. At that mark, around that $1 million mark, some above and some slightly below, you will have your tractors, your air seeders, your sprayers, your three main items that you need to operate with, and there is an array of other equipment around that.

Beyond that is the absolute risk of working with the weather. We see quite a tough start to the year. I like to think that because it has been so dry that we will see rain come from now on. We have seen very minimal rain. I mean, we had nine millimetres the other day and people were essentially treating that as the mini break because a lot of crop—and this is the hope that people have—has gone in dry. My property went in dry. Beans were germinating on next to no moisture. It is just amazing.

A lot of farmers, as they do right across the state, start seeding, some from probably mid-April but certainly ANZAC Day is a real trigger to get on with it. I know one property owner who almost sowed their 4,000 or 5,000 acres completely dry. Apart from all the other risks of the input costs, fuel costs, chemical costs, then there is the electricity cost of running your business, and not just running your business; a lot of these people run their businesses from their houses as well and it impacts there as well. Farmers do a great, great job across this state.

Sadly, we have seen in recent days that for too many small businesses, especially in the hospitality industry—in the paper today, My Little Foodery—it has just become too hard. Rent, wages, power: how many times do we hear that that trifecta knocks someone out? And we had the floods about 18 months ago, which were devastating for smaller and larger businesses right up and down the river. Anything we can do to support them to get back on their feet is what we need to do. But, again, as they restart and rebuild, it is the same thing: rent, wages and electricity costs, and all the other operating costs that come in.

With interest rates, we are at a different level to what I operated in, and to what some in here operated in over 30 years ago in farming when we were paying above 20 per cent in interest rates. If you had 20 per cent now, the whole show would fall down. Obviously the amount of money involved was a lot different. You see interest rates move even one quarter of a per cent now, but if you saw them move 1 per cent now in the wrong way, moving up, that would add many, many thousands—tens of thousands of dollars—to many small businesses, and in some cases hundreds of thousands of dollars of debt that needs to be paid. It only needs to move a small amount on a debt and next thing you are paying $12,000 to $15,000 extra a year. This is another thing that has to be absorbed by small and family businesses in how they are operating in this state.

Part of the issue that has impacted a lot of these businesses is COVID, and we still have some people working from home. I think that is having a real impact on some of our smaller operators, some of our coffee shops and our cafes. We have seen the burger shop in North Adelaide that has been there for 73 years—

Mr Batty: The 'Red and White'.

Mr PEDERICK: The 'Red and White', thank you. That is shutting down. This is a tragedy, really, to see these famed eateries that people have frequented over time, to see that after all these years of operations they just fall over.

I want to reflect on what we did in the Marshall Liberal government, and this was all about lowering the cost of doing business in this state. We exempted payroll tax up to $1.5 million, and that increased the threshold from $600,000. It was a significant threshold lift. South Australian businesses that had annual taxable wages above $600,000 but below $1 million had paid a 2.5 per cent payroll tax, and that was reduced to nil under those changes.

Back when we did that the reforms were expected to save about 3,200 firms a combined $157.2 million, while a further 400 businesses with taxable wages between $1.5 million and $1.7  million were expected to benefit from a reduction in payroll tax.

Now, from opposition, just in the last week we called on the Malinauskas Labor government to tackle the skills shortage in this state with payroll tax exemptions for apprentices and trainees while also increasing the current payroll tax threshold. It is very important that we support our youth and adult trainees and apprentices to move forward.

I am very proud of both my lads. One is a mechanical engineer intern, operating out of Queensland at the moment, out of Mount Isa, Mack, and then Angus is a third year apprentice chippy builder. Both are contributing a lot to this state and this country.

We heard before how this Labor government are not paying tradies—how disgraceful. Tradies can just pick up and—

Mr Odenwalder: That's not true.

Mr PEDERICK: It is true; it's absolutely true, it's completely true.

The ACTING SPEAKER (Mr Brown): Order!

Mr PEDERICK: The government is in charge of a program where tradies are not being paid. It is outrageous. The tradies—

Members interjecting:

Mr PEDERICK: It's true. The tradies can just go—

The ACTING SPEAKER (Mr Brown): Order, members!

Mr PEDERICK: —and work somewhere else, because I can tell you that there is plenty of work, whether it is new builds, whether it is renovations, whatever is going on. There are many hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars worth of work that companies can do in the building industry, no matter what size they are. The government needs to get its act together. I do not care whether Spotless are running it, but the government is in charge and Peter Malinauskas is at the head of the government—

Members interjecting:

The ACTING SPEAKER (Mr Brown): Order!

Members interjecting:

Mr PEDERICK: You're in government now, so make it work.

The ACTING SPEAKER (Mr Brown): Order, members! Quiet, please.

Mr PEDERICK: They hate negativity on that side of the house, because they hate small business. What we need to see is this government supporting employers in this state so that we can get a better outcome for employment options in the state and get jobs activated so that people can earn what they need to earn, get paid appropriately, move into the future, and stop all these businesses from throwing their hands into the air and saying, 'It's just too hard.'

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