The state government has introduced legislation in the lower house, due to be debated on Tuesday, that will prevent major suburban shopping malls from introducing car parking fees unless they get approval from the relevant local council.
The regulations apply to shopping centers with an area greater than 34,000 square meters.
But the parliamentary push comes amid a dispute between health workers and the Malinauskas government over paid car parking at the hospital, which was reintroduced on July 1 after being suspended during the pandemic.
The unions argue that the reintroduction of hospital parking fees represents a two percent pay cut for a hospital cleaner earning $27 an hour.
The shopping center parking bill will pass the Lower House but may face a tougher road in the Legislative Council, where the Greens and now the Opposition have signaled they will push for amendments to give free parking to hospital workers. .
Labor has nine seats in the Upper House compared to the Liberals’ seven, with five MLCs on the cross bench.
The Opposition’s amendments would also give the Commissioner of Consumer Affairs the powers to approve new fees for car parking in shopping malls, rather than local councils.
“We have already rejected Peter Malinauskas’ pet bill because it is fundamentally flawed and it is shocking that the prime minister does not have the perspective to realize his mistake,” opposition leader David Speirs said in a statement.
“Peter Malinauskas quickly turned his back on the very frontline health care workers he promised the world in the run-up to the election.”
Malinauskas said it was the Liberal Party’s prerogative to vote against the bill.
“I just wish that maybe someone from the Liberal Party would spend some time talking to retail workers who can’t access parking lots, the very limited number of parking lots, that Westfield supplies,” he told reporters on Sunday.
“What we seek to do is protect the residents of the Tea Tree Gully area and the residents of the northeast suburbs from yet another cost being imposed on them at a time when the cost of living is rising.
“What we want to do is provide savings to people by not having to pay for car parking that is currently free.”
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