Australia’s 2.4m small businesses have been without a strong voice in Australian politics and public affairs for a long time.
Of the total Australian workforce of 11.5 million:
8 million are in small business.
1.7 million work for government.
1.7 million are in medium and big business.
These figures suggest that the most prominent and most powerful economic voice in Australia should be small business.
In fact, the voices of self-employed people and those they employ are rarely heard in government, public policy or the media. Big business and big unions drown out the voices of the “little people” in the Australian economy.
Being diverse and fragmented, small firms lack a strong, unified voice. Politically, we lack the direct sponsorship of the two major parties whose first allegiance is to big business and trade unions respectively.
Being political ‘orphans’, we have been trapped in an economic and political no-man’s land, caught between the anti-competitive practices of big business and the anti-enterprise practices of trade unions.
Until Australia’s 2.4m small businesses create a big political voice for ourselves, we will continue to be lost in an economic and political no-man’s land.
The Small Business Division of The Sensible Centre has one goal – to involve tens of thousands of small businesses across Australia in a political movement that can secure the election of a bloc of MPs to parliaments and councils to represent the interests of small business.
The Division is based on The Small Business Party, founded by Angela Vithoulkas in 2017. Through The Sensible Centre our hope is that many thousands of micro businesses and small businesses will come together to create a powerful national voice.
The aims of the Small Business Division are to:
1. Represent tens of thousands of small and micro businesses across Australia;
2. Develop a policy agenda to advance our interests;
3. Secure the election of a bloc of MPs to Parliaments and Councils to represent small business;
4. Build the leadership and organisational capacity of participants; and
5. Participate in national public discussion to promote and build support for small business.
To Express your Interest in participating in the Division, go to this form.
For a full outline of the place of Divisions in The Sensible Centre, see our Two Year Plan here.
Our Agenda appears below.
The Division is led by Martin Rambow and David Abrahams:
Martin is CEO of Finance for Life, a finance lender to small businesses. Martin lives in Sydney, NSW.
David is an information technology consultant and regional development adviser. David lives in Gosford, NSW.
Small businesses are the lifeblood of regional communities. Socially, small businesses are vitally important to local communities. The social and regional contribution of small businesses, as well as their employment role, have long been ignored by governments.
1. Overhaul federal and state industrial relations systems to recognise the needs of businesses which employ less than 20 people as being different from the needs of corporates, and which require greater flexibility including exemption from:
a. unfair dismissals legislation;
b. penalty rates; and
c. paid parental leave legislation.
2. Exempt family members working in family businesses from employment laws, and remove the requirement for police checks on young family members.
3. Oppose an increase in compulsory super contributions by employers to 12% and exempt businesses which employ less than 20 people from the requirement to collect superannuation contributions by transferring this function to the tax system.
4. Restrict licensing fees for all business activities to cost-recovery rates so as to prevent licensing fees from being used as revenue-raising instruments for governments. Fees for ASIC searches should be removed.
5. Abolish business taxes for firms employing less than 20 people including stamp duties, land and payroll taxes.
6. Exempt businesses employing less than 20 people from green energy surcharges.
7. Remove all federal and state restrictions on the right of small businesses to collectively negotiate with suppliers, acquirers and franchisors, and the right of franchisees to instigate ‘class-type’ actions against franchisors.
8. Strengthen the Trade Practices Act provisions dealing with anti-competitive behavour, predatory pricing, price fixing and collusive behaviour.
9. Reduce fees for use of card payment systems by small businesses employing less than 20 people by requiring this reduction be written into the terms of bank licenses.
10. Assign real powers to Small Business Ombudsmen or Commissioners to function as independent public statutory offices to investigate and act on discriminatory conduct against small businesses, unreasonable exercise of market power by supermarket and fast food chains against suppliers and producers, and disputes between governments and small businesses.
11. Overhaul government tendering processes to remove discrimination against small business.
12. Require the introduction of Small Business Impact Statements in all major policy initiatives and major project developments.
To join The Sensible Centre, go to this form.