The silent majority

Perhaps the Prime Minister’s problems stem from who is whispering in her ear

It is pretty clear to me why there is a disconnect between the decisions taken by the Prime Minister and some of her colleagues and the views of voters—they are listening to the wrong people! How many times do we see the photos of tables of prominent ‘big end of towners’ and the PM deep in discussion? Whether it’s over the carbon price, wage rates for apprentices, occupational health and safety or the fair work laws, the view of big business is very different from most Australians. The best proxy for business’ influence on voting intentions is employment. That is, the views of a sector of the economy, translates in votes through its employees. For example, mining accounts for 1.2 per cent of employment: so a decision favourable to miners is likely to sway 1.2 per cent of the vote.

When you consider that agriculture accounts for 3.2 per cent, manufacturing 10.7 per cent and the entire membership of the union movement 18 per cent, you get some sort of picture of how the advice might be distorted. In contrast, 82 per cent of jobs are in the services sectors, and 47 per cent in small business. Whilst these proportions obviously overlap, there are large parts of the Treasurer’s patchwork around which decisions are not being made. This has a major distorting effect. For all our sakes, let’s hope the Government starts a dialogue with small business before the patchwork is reduced to tatters!

Brien Trippas
President, Restaurant & Catering



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