Small business owners have more power to topple or prop up a government than most people realise, according to an analysis of marginal seats conducted by the Council of Small Business of Australia.
Election results from 2013, combined with data from the Australian Business Register, reveal just a handful of small business owners – in some cases only a few hundred – would need to redirect their vote in order for one of these seats to change hands at the July election.
To date, the Coalition has campaigned using the mantra of “jobs and growth” and included several measures aimed at small businesses in the recent federal budget. Meanwhile, Labor says it supports lowering the tax rate for small business and the removal of the controversial backpacker tax, which will affect small business in some sectors.
The seat of McEwen, for example, which is situated to the north of Melbourne’s urban fringe, is held by Labor by a margin of just 0.2%.
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According to the figures from COSBOA, just over 12,000 small businesses are located within the electorate, meaning SME operators make up at least 9.4% of the voting population.
Peter Strong, chief executive of COSBOA, told SmartCompany the opinions of small business owners matter.
“We count,” Strong says.
“If you look at the margins, they’re fascinating. You only need a few small business people to change their vote [for a seat to change]. The message to the parties is, you just can’t ignore us.”
Strong says too often people think their vote doesn’t matter in the grand scheme of things.
However, he points out that’s not actually the case – with election day very important for small business people as government policy has the potential to make or break their livelihoods.
“We’re all a bit sick of tired of the big end of town and the big unions controlling things,” he says.
“Something needs to change, and that’s what we’re working on.”
Here are the top 20 marginal seats and the percentage of small businesses owners residing within them, according to COSBOA:
|Electorate||Party||No. of Small Businesses||Small business as % of voters||Margin|