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Closure of Small Business due to Torrens to Torrens Project

18 October 2018

The Hon. J.A. DARLEY (15:06): I seek leave to make a brief explanation before asking the Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment, representing the Minister for Transport, Infrastructure and Local Government, questions regarding the closure of small businesses due to the Torrens to Torrens project.

Leave granted.

The Hon. J.A. DARLEY: After eight years in business, owners Gareth and Emma Grierson announced on social media recently that Red Door Bakery and Croydon Social will be placed into the hands of liquidators due to the constant disruptions caused by the Torrens to Torrens project. This is a matter that has been widely discussed in the media. In an attempt to save their business and retain their 30 employees, the couple were forced to sell their family home. Unfortunately, their efforts could not overcome the devastating impact of three years of road works. The owners have expressed the need for the government to consider small business when capital works are undertaken. Sadly, they have seen many local businesses close due to the T to T project.

I am personally aware of other businesses that have had to close due to the disruption caused by government projects. This is in addition to the businesses that have managed to stay afloat albeit under extreme financial and emotional distress, but does not even begin to address the concerns of residents who have been affected by government projects like the Torrens to Torrens. My questions to the minister are:

1. Can the minister advise how many businesses have closed, rather than relocated, along the Torrens to Torrens project?

2. Has DPTI conducted any follow-up with these businesses that closed to find out how things could be done better and see if anything could have been done to save their livelihoods?

3. Did the Griersons request assistance from the government? If so, what was the result?

4. How many businesses have approached the government or DPTI indicating that the Torrens to Torrens project has affected their businesses?

5. What consideration has the government given to providing relief to businesses that are affected by capital works?

6. What plans does DPTI have in place now to avoid these problems in the future?

The Hon. D.W. RIDGWAY (Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment) (15:08): I thank the honourable member for his question. I did spend some time on a select committee with him in the previous parliament, where we looked at a number of these issues. I know that he still has a strong ongoing interest in the disruption with infrastructure and land acquisition, and properties and businesses. It will be a pleasure to take that question on notice and refer it to the Hon. Stephan Knoll, the Minister for Transport, Infrastructure and Local Government, and bring back a reply.

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Response

12 February 2019

The Hon. D.W. RIDGWAY (Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment): The Minister for Transport, Infrastructure and Local Government has provided the following advice:

1. I am advised no formal records have been kept on the number of business that have closed, rather than relocated.

2. No, there has not been follow up. However, based upon lessons learned, when a project is announced, the Department of Planning, Transport and Infrastructure (DPTI) (or its contractors) will actively engage with businesses and business owners to obtain information specific to the business and form relationships and primary points of contact. Funding for marketing, advertising and communications campaigns will be embedded into the procurement process for major capital projects.

A $150,000 Bring Back Business also known as 'Love Local' campaign was approved by DPTI in November 2017 for the Torrens to Torrens (T2T) Alliance to work collaboratively with all of the affected businesses and offered ongoing support including:

- Customer access flyers - Directional signage - Website links on the 'support local business' page

- Intranet promotion of 'meal deals' for workforces

Where appropriate, an independent small business advisor may be provided to assist business owners to continue to trade during construction with as little disruption as possible and provide business continuity strategies.

The Marshall government has released the small business engagement policy, designed to change the way it engages with the business community, to better protect businesses and minimise disruption during large infrastructure projects.

Since the announcement of the policy there has been a renewed focus on supporting local businesses on existing infrastructure projects.

3. Yes. I am advised the T2T Alliance provided the following assistance to assist Queen Street traders:

Partnered with the Adelaide Business Hub at the start of the project. A letter was sent to all businesses within the project footprint, offering access to a tailored business support package (for small businesses with up to 20 staff) during construction, which included two hours free consultation and low cost assistance for marketing and business advice, training and development and promotional assistance.

Provided permanent signage on Port Road and South Road advising motorists how to access the Queen Street precinct.

Provided electronic and/or static signage when detours were in place on Port Road.

Provided $20,000 to fund a social media campaign for Queen Street traders.

Provided opportunities for Queen Street traders to promote their businesses during works.

In addition to the above, construction activities impacting Queen Street traders were undertaken at night, where possible, to minimise disruption to businesses.

4. I am advised by the T2T Alliance that its records show 32 businesses contacted DPTI to discuss impacts on their business.

5. & 6. The Marshall government has introduced formal guidelines for specific engagement with small businesses impacted by major capital works. As announced last month, these guidelines cement a firm commitment to work with businesses as early as possible in the process and provide greater transparency.

When a project is announced, DPTI (or its contractors) will actively engage with businesses and business owners to obtain information specific to the business, form relationships and obtain primary points of contact.

Funding for marketing, advertising and communications campaigns will be embedded into the procurement process for major capital projects.

Where appropriate, an independent small business advisor may be provided to assist business owners to continue to trade during construction with as little disruption as possible and suggest strategies for business owners.

This information and direct links to further resources for small business is available for businesses and the public on www.infrastructure.sa.gov.au.

DPTI and its contractors are committed to being transparent early in the engagement process and working with local businesses to lessen impacts of construction and work together as much as possible.

These measures are intended to maintain the flow of customers during construction and also attract customers back to an area once construction is finished.

Since the announcement of the policy there has been a renewed focus on supporting local businesses on existing infrastructure projects.

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