A NSW entrepreneur has called on politicians to put their money where their mouth is in support of small business.
He has renewed calls for politicians to take a 20 per cent pay cut to help prop up small businesses struggling under lockdown and public health orders.
Mark Bouris wants politicians to acknowledge the fact that they have been receiving a full pay cheque while small businesses struggle to make ends meet.
“I’ve taken it upon myself today to actually make a statement about what I think is happening to the small business community in Australia but particularly right here in Sydney,” Mr Bouris said in an Instagram video he posted this week.
Between 97.4 per cent and 98.4 per cent of businesses in Australia qualify as small businesses with fewer than 20 employees or an annual turnover of under $10 million.
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The 2.3 million small businesses in Australia contribute almost $418 billion to Gross Domestic Product (GDP) – or 32 per cent of Australia’s total economy, according to a recent Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman report.
And, with over 41 per cent of the business workforce, they’re also the country’s biggest employer.
Mr Bouris says the small business community hasn’t seen “all of us acting together” throughout the pandemic, reports Smart Company.
“We in the small business community are having a disproportionate hit in terms of our income, relative to what everybody else is getting,” he said.
Mr Bouris believes that any politician who voluntarily takes a 20 per cent pay cut during a lockdown and an additional seven weeks would be considered a “true leader”.
“That particular individual will be a true leader in my eyes, and we’ll truly be doing this together with the small business community,” he said.
Mr Bouris also decried the disconnect between small businesses and decision makers, including state and federal government disagreements over health policy.
“I don’t know who’s running the show, the federal government and premiers don’t agree, health ministers don’t agree and health advice isn’t agreeing with each other,” he said.
“Who represents small business owners at the policy point?”
Mr Bouris is not the first to call on pollies to take pay cuts throughout the pandemic.
A survey conducted last year by polling firm Dynata for the Institute of Public Affairs (IPA) revealed that older Australians and middle-income families “strongly” wanted politicians to take a 20 per cent pay cut to share the pandemic pain.
Almost three quarters of households agreed “strongly” or “somewhat” that “politicians and senior public servants who earn over $150,000 a year” should take a pay cut.
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“If we are truly ‘all in this together’ then the economic and social pain must be shared around,” said director of research at the IPA Daniel Wild, at the time.
“Equality of sacrifice is required to get Australia through this unprecedented peacetime challenge.”
“Federal public servants have on average 20 per cent higher wages than private sector workers in Australia. This is unacceptable in good times but unconscionable in the middle of economic and social Armageddon.
“Reducing public sector pay is not aimed at punishing public servants but ensuring that they have skin in the game. For this reason, no public servant should receive a bonus until unemployment falls back below five per cent.”
It is worth noting that Treasurer Josh Frydenberg announced on Thursday that the unemployment rate had fallen to 4.9 per cent, the first time it has been below five per cent since June 2011.
Last year, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern cut her ministers’ and senior civil servants’ pay by 20 per cent in mid-April.
“If there was ever a time to close the gap between groups of people across New Zealand in different positions, it is now,” she said.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison then dismissed calls of pay cuts, stating, “They [politicians] do a great job and they’re as much on the frontline saving people’s livelihoods frankly as nurses working in hospitals.”
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