North-South nightmare rolls on for small businesses backed into corner

Tuesday 02 April, 2024

South Australian small business owners say they feel hamstrung by the Malinauskas Labor Government with failed and “unfair” negotiations over property value for acquisitions for the $15.4 billion North-South Corridor project.

The Opposition has met with multiple business owners at Richmond – some of whom are set to be kicked out of their workplaces in just months with nowhere to go – and say only lowball offers have been put on the table to compensate for their well-established family operations.

In some cases, government officials have suggested to business owners that local employees be sacked from their jobs while transitions to potential new locations occur.

Leader of the Opposition, David Speirs, said he is “frustrated” over the latest horror stories from small business owners about their treatment during the acquisition process.

“For two years we have been in direct contact with people – homeowners, small and large business owners – and they all share the same horror stories while the Malinauskas Labor Government attempts to acquire their properties with lowball offers,” Mr Speirs said.

“We know there is need for community support roles when major projects involve property acquisition, and this is a perfect opportunity to start that process.

“We must utilise home or small business owners who have experienced property acquisition to support others going through the same process to achieve fair and reasonable outcomes.

“If elected in 2026, the Liberal Party will establish an Acquisitions Taskforce for future acquisition projects in South Australia.

“It’s time to ditch the heartless government suits for community-based project support officers who truly understand and empathise with the hardships surrounding property acquisition because these processes are lifechanging.”

Shadow Minister for Infrastructure and Transport, Vincent Tarzia, said Peter Malinauskas is handling the acquisition process “like he has no heart”.

“We have family businesses and livelihoods on the line and that’s why any acquisition process must be handled with care,” Mr Tarzia said.

“Right now, we have business owners stumbling around in the dark because they aren’t getting fair prices for acquisition, or they have no idea how much money is on the table which means planning for the future is impossible.

“With every day that goes by without a solution, there are small businesses owners and employees who are sweating on their futures and that type of feeling must be dreadful.

“There also appears to be no standard practice for compensation which is confusing those who are losing their businesses.”