Sydney-based entrepreneur Mark Bouris is calling on politicians to take a 20% pay cut in a show of solidarity with small businesses struggling due to public health orders.
Bouris said in an Instagram video that he hadn’t heard any politician acknowledge the fact that they have been receiving a full paycheck while small businesses are expected to accept a sharp reduction in their income.
“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,” Bouris said.
Small businesses make up between 97.4% and 98.4% of businesses in Australia, depending on whether they’re defined as having less than 20 employees or an annual turnover of under $10 million.
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According to a recent Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman report, there are 2.3 million small businesses in Australia, contributing to almost $418 billion to Gross Domestic Product (GDP), which is equivalent to 32% of Australia’s total economy.
What’s more, small business is the country’s biggest employer, hiring over 41% of the business workforce.
Bouris, who’s also an author, academic and chair of the business mentoring service Mentored, says the small business community hasn’t seen “all of us acting together” throughout the pandemic.
“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.
For these reasons, Bouris says, any politician who voluntarily takes a 20% pay cut for the period of the lockdown and an additional seven weeks would be 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.
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Bouris has been filming videos that feature small businesses around Sydney, including Bar Biscotti in Strathfield and Crown Street Grocer in Surry Hills. In the videos, he asks business owners how they’ve been going during Sydney’s current lockdown.
Bouris said there’s a disconnect between small businesses and decision makers and it’s clear the federal and state governments disagree 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?”