State Government should introduce voucher scheme for South Australians to drive SA’s post COVID-19 economic stimulus: SA-BEST

25 May 2020

A scheme where vouchers are given to South Australians to spend exclusively in SA should be introduced by the Marshall Government to help drive the state’s post COVID-19 economic recovery, SA-BEST believes. 

SA-BEST MLC and Tourism spokesperson, Frank Pangallo, said today the innovative economic stimulus would provide a crucial boost to the state’s ailing tourism, retail and hospitality sectors that have been devastated by the pandemic and led to thousands of South Australians losing their jobs. 

Frank’s call comes amid figures showing the country’s retail spending in April plunged by $5.4 billion after the panic buying grocery sprees in March. 

Worst hit were hospitality, clothing and footwear retailing while tourism has borne the brunt of the COVID-19 shutdowns. 

Under the proposal, the voucher recipient would be required to spend an additional amount of money - on top of the voucher - at businesses registered to participate in the scheme. 

“It’s no secret South Australia’s tourism, retail and hospitality sectors have been virtually decimated by the COVID-19 pandemic,” Frank said. 

“Economists are warning that once restrictions are lifted, many related businesses are going to struggle to keep their doors open,” he said. 

“Any economic stimulus the government can provide to give these businesses the best chance of survival will be roundly embraced. 

“A voucher scheme would see South Australians help drive the state’s economic recovery by providing an incentive for them to purchase goods and services from these impacted businesses. 

“After being in self-isolation for the better part of two months, people would jump at the chance of getting into the regions – or simply going out for a meal at a local restaurant - for a short break or holiday. 

“It’s a win-win for everyone – while also helping the state’s economic recovery.” 

Frank proposes the State Government adopt a similar scheme to that introduced in the Northern Territory recently where businesses in the hospitality, retail and tourism sectors are being invited to register to be part of a $300,000 economic support package that encourages customers to purchase goods and services at local participating businesses. 

In the Northern Territory, customers will receive up to $40 worth of discount vouchers daily – ranging from $2.50 to $20 - to spend at registered businesses, and will be required to commit to a minimum spend in order to redeem the voucher. 

Under the NT model, a $2.50 voucher is given for a minimum spend $10; a $5 voucher for a $20 minimum spend; a $10 voucher for a minimum $40 spend and $20 voucher for an $80 minimum spend. 

Eligible business must have an annual turnover of less than $10 million and must be operational for over six months at the time of registration. 

Iceland has also introduced a similar voucher scheme for all Icelanders to spend on tourism in that country. 

Under the proposal, vouchers could not be spent on gambling, alcohol or cigarettes. 

“The State Government has already flagged the state’s finances have taken a massive hit because of the COVID-19 crisis,” Frank said. 

“This is on top of the hundreds of businesses that have closed and the thousands of jobs lost,” he said. 

“In the post COVID-19 world, I suspect many people will be reluctant to spend too heavily given the uncertainty that lies ahead in the short to medium term. 

“Any incentive that provides an economic stimulus for people to spend on local business and products would be roundly embraced, as well as have the potential to create much needed jobs.” 

Frank said it was imperative that incentives are offered to kick start many small businesses which have been closed and face an uphill battle to remain viable when they re-open.

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