Small business owner and City of Sydney councillor Angela Vithoulkas is hoping to replace Malcolm Turnbull in federal parliament and will make small business issues a central feature of her campaign.
Speaking to SmartCompany this morning, Vithoulkas confirmed her candidacy for the upcoming Wentworth byelection.
The seat is now up for grabs, after former Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull decided to resign from parliament after losing the Liberal Party leadership last week.
Vithoulkas says she decided to put her name forward for the seat of Wentworth after witnessing “the absolute shenanigans and circus that has played out in federal politics lately”.
“And it’s not just very recently — in the last year or so, the goings on have been absolutely ridiculous,” she says.
“People have been flip-flopping on policy, there’s been no true leadership, no understanding of the actual needs of the people they serve, and constant disregards of the effects on small business when on a whim, they make a policy change”.
Vithoulkas is the leader of NSW political party, the Small Business Party, but she will be standing in the Wentworth contest as an independent, as the Small Business Party is still waiting for its federal registration to be confirmed. She says the timing of the byelection is “unexpected” but an opportunity she feels she must pursue.
“I’m close to the area … I’ve been twice elected to the City Council,” she says.
“I’m a proven, strong independent voice. I mean what I say and I follow through. I’ve been in business for 30 years, I’ve had a real job, I’m not a bureaucrat, and I actually care about what people want.
“I’m not aligned to any political party, I’m not governed by factions, and I don’t need to keep anyone happy except for the people who elect me, if they choose to. This is what mainstream politicians forget.”
Vithoulkas says small business issues will form a central part of her byelection campaign and subsequent representation in parliament, should she be elected.
“The important thing to remember is that small businesses are all about families and communities,” she says.
“We employ people, we are vital to the economy, and there isn’t really any policy at any level of government that doesn’t affect us. If you’re not a small business owner, you probably work for one, and you certainly go into one.”
According to Sky News, Vithoulkas has the backing of prominent Sydney radio broadcaster Alan Jones, and could come up against fellow city councillor Christine Forster, the sister of Tony Abbott, in the Wentworth contest if Forster secures Liberal Party preselection.
Until recently, Vithoulkas was a long-time cafe operator in Sydney’s CBD.
She was forced to close the well-known Vivo Cafe at the end of last week following years of disruption caused by the Sydney light rail construction project.
She’s now spearheading a $40 million class action lawsuit against the New South Wales government for the mismanagement of the light rail project, along with more than 60 businesses.