The public meeting has been organised by the City of Sydney Council in response to proposed new business voting laws are that are currently before the NSW Parliament.
While the business voting issue has generated plenty of media coverage I asked to speak at this event because I believe small business is still not being heard. This meeting provides an opportunity for an independent, non-partisan voice to be part of this public discussion.
There are a number of elements that supported my request to speak:
- The business voting process today clearly disenfranchises business from registering to vote, only about 1500 voted at the 2012 local elections. It’s currently a complicated, time consuming and very disappointing process.
- This is one of the most important electoral issues that the City of Sydney has faced for many years. The possibility of the NSW Government rolling it out across NSW also means we need to get it right. It shouldn’t be treated lightly, and right now it feels rushed.
- I have been a small business owner in the City of Sydney for the past 30 years. A big part of why I decided to run in the 2012 elections was to stand up for small business because we are consistently pushed aside.
- I do have some concerns with the current Shooters and Fishers Bill and my biggest concern relates to2 votes only per parcel of land for the non residential voters. That means if there are several businesses on this parcel of land like shops and offices, only 2 business owners will ever be able to register to vote regardless of how many operate in the building or on that parcel of land.
- Small business represents more than 80% of all businesses in the city and as it stands we could be almost totally eliminated from the democratic process of being able to vote.
There are more than 20,000 small businesses in the City of Sydney. Just think about your local shopping villages, high streets and commercial areas. The places that you shop and eat. The professional services that you use. Most of them will be denied the opportunity to have a voice if the Shooters and Fishers Bill is not amended.
Clearly there needs to be a revision of the current process and to rectify the issues that stand in the way of a fair and equitable system for everyone, including small business.
The current bill before parliament needs to clarify who can vote, to clearly define it and provide the opportunity for small business to be part of democracy, not isolated from it.
There is time for that now, lets not leave it until its too late.