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