Councillor Angela Vithoulkas, founder of the Small Business Party and a nominee for Lord Mayor of City of Sydney in the upcoming local government elections, told City Hub small business is her natural habitat.
She has 35 years of hands on experience as a business owner and it’s the reason she got politically involved.
“It’s why I formed the Small Business political party because I knew we needed to have an organised approach to getting small business a seat at the table, so that we could make sure we have a voice and prevent the financial catastrophes that have clearly befallen us.”
Vithoulkas said politics is not like building a business or working hard in a regular job. It doesn’t follow any sense of logic, it’s not full of common sense.
Earlier this year, she decided nine years was enough, until the Clover Moore Independent Team announced that they would have a super eight majority at the election. She decided to run again in the name of keeping council diverse, and so there was somebody there to represent small business in the wake of COVID.
“It became apparent with the way that COVID affected the businesses in the CBD in particular, and they’re still suffering, that they had no voice at a local or state level and I needed to be there to keep trying to help them in any way that I could.”
Vithoulkas means business
Vithoulkas said council has a clear vendetta against small business, “considering more than 70% of the current council that’s elected and will be running again want to remove the business vote.”
The City of Sydney has a unique and controversial voting system for businesses. In NSW, all businesses have the right to vote through a registration process. Vithoulkas fought to make that process easier in the City.
A City of Sydney business owner, paying rates to the City, who resides outside of the City of Sydney can vote in the election.
“The misconception about the unfair advantage that the business vote has is that it’s two votes per business. It’s not. It’s one vote per person. I am an example of that. I have a business in the City of Sydney and I am a resident, I do not get two votes. I only get to vote once,” said Vithoulkas.
In 2012 when Vithoulkas was first elected, the register was wiped after every election and businesses had to re-enroll. Now, a business only has to enroll once.
The businesses of the CBD and 33 surrounding suburbs contribute almost 80% of the rates revenue of the financially powerful council.
“Most people confuse businesses with the big end of town. We’re not. We are the backbone in the engine room of every single level of the economy in Australia. We deserve to have a vote and participate in what happens in our local community, not just where we live, but where our work lives are,” said Vithoulkas.
Vithoulkas’ 8-point plan to re-imagine local government. Photo: Supplied.
Vithoulkas has an 8-point plan to ‘re-imagine local government,’ which she said differentiates her from every other candidate and every other party. “I’m not promising that we’re gonna have ten more parks and fifteen more community centres and twenty more sports fields, those are the normal business of council, those things get done regardless of who gets voted in.
“What’s not happening is people are not getting a voice and democratic, fair representation.”
Point 3 is to establish public “questions without notice” sessions where local people can turn up and ask councillors questions that have not been pre-approved.
Point 2 is capping Lord Mayoral terms to a maximum of three terms, which she said has everything to do with the Clover Moore Independent Team.
“No business has ever kept a CEO like that in perpetuity.”