Creating a Voice for the 2.4 million Self-Employed Australians and the 8 million in Small Business

Consider these simple Australian statistics:

• 2.4 million Australians are self-employed.
• 1.4 million of these don’t employ anyone.
• the other 1 million employ about 6 million people.

Of a work force of about 11.5 million:

• About 8 million are in small business.
• About 1.7 million work for government.
• About 1.7 million are in medium and big business.

Of all businesses in Australia:

• 90% have less than 15 FTE staff.
• 97% have less than 20 FTE staff.

These figures should suggest that the most prominent and most powerful economic voice in Australia would be self-employed people and small businesses.

In fact, the voices of self-employed people and those they employ are rarely heard in government, public policy or the media. Big business and public sector unions drown out the voices of the "little people" in the Australian economy.

The dominant approach to economic policy in Australia is based on the idea that
economic management is about ‘big business’ balanced by ‘big labour’ and ‘big government’. This thinking shapes the way governments, policy makers and journalists go about their work.

The problem with this is that it leaves out the majority of the workforce, the majority of businesses, and the majority of entrepreneurs.

Voice and Representation

Self-employed people and small businesses are trapped in an economic and political no-man's land, caught between the anti-competitive practices of big business and the anti-enterprise practices of trade unions.

Being diverse and fragmented, small firms lack a strong, unified voice. Politically, they lack the direct sponsorship of the two major parties whose first allegiance is to big business and trade unions respectively.

Socially, small businesses are vitally important to local communities. Their social contribution has long been ignored by social policy makers.

Register your interest

You can register your interest in this process through this online form.

We are also inviting expressions of interest in joining a Leadership Council to guide the development of this voice.

We are exploring a networked model of organisation for voice and influence based on Australia's 150 federal electorates. When you register your influence, indicate which federal electorate you are in.

Expressions of Interest in joining the Leadership Council, or in being involved in this process may be expressed through this online form.

Draft Small Business Manifesto

This draft Small Business Manifesto has been prepared as a call to action and a campaign tool for the self-employed and small business sector. 

CLICK HERE to read the draft Manifesto.

Small Business Survey

You can also participate by completing this survey of issues and challenges facing small business and self-employed people.

CLICK HERE to complete our small business survey.

This development process is hosted by the Centre for Civil Society.


Vern Hughes
PO Box 159 Yarraville Vic 3013
0425 722 890


 © Centre for Civil Society 2012-2013