Entrepreneur Dick Smith has revealed he will run against Prime Minister Tony Abbott in his Sydney seat of Warringah at the next federal election, but he admits he doesn’t actually want to win.
Speaking to SmartCompany this morning, Smith says the stunt is intended to raise awareness about one of his passions – the deteriorating aviation industry.
The multimillionaire announced he had registered “The Dick Smith Party” as a business name in March, but told SmartCompany at the time he did not intend to run for public office himself.
However, he confirmed this morning he will personally run in the electorate held by Abbott if the Prime Minister doesn’t agree to tighten aviation safety in Australia.*
“I’m hoping this bit of publicity will help,” Smith says.
“I don’t expect to win; it would be a disaster if I did. I’m 71, I don’t want to become a politician – but I might.”
Smith wants Abbott to implement radar to control the airspace of several major regional airports. He says the legislation was originally a Coalition policy, but has since fallen from the focus of Deputy Prime Minister Warren Truss, the minister responsible for aviation.
“[Abbott] has a totally incompetent minister who simply has no idea,” says Smith.
While Smith says he believes Abbott will take the steps to push forward with the legislation, he denies running against the PM is an empty threat.
“If they don’t [push the legislation], I will be standing in his seat,” he says.
If Smith was to oust Abbott from his long-held seat, it could be good news for Australian SMEs, with Smith saying his intention would be to be a voice for the small business community.
“I want to help small businesses, we could have thriving small businesses in Australia,” he says.
While Smith admits the government’s recent focus on small business, especially the $20,000 asset write-off, will provide a “slight bit of help” to Australian SMEs, he believes small businesses are still being hampered by overregulation.
“The government said red tape and cost imposed on small businesses will be removed, but costs have actually increased,” Smith says.
“People are sick of a lack of direction and lack of the government keeping their policies.”
Smith says small businesses in the aviation field are particularly feeling the heat.
“On the aviation side, every time I blink costs have been increased. This government is basically in the process of destroying the aviation industry… It’s ridiculous,” he says.
*This article was updated on June 12 2015. The original article referred to “aviation security”. Smith’s concerns relate to aviation safety, not security.