Small business a key election battleground, says AACS

AACS CEO Jeff Rogut has warned politicians that small business owners could swing the upcoming federal election.

As the man at the helm of the Australasian Association of Convenience Stores (AACS), Mr Rogut is urging the coalition and Labor to take heed of the small-business and convenience vote.

“Small business is invariably trumpeted as the backbone of the economy every time an election comes around,” he said.

“Now it’s time to walk the talk. This election promises to be close and many voters still haven’t decided. Our association represents over 6,000 convenience stores, employing some 40,000 people. It’s a major contributor to the national economy.

“Further, convenience stores are pillars of the local communities they serve … Our customers typically agree that the issues affecting small business deserve greater recognition.”

Key issues for convenience

To back up his claims, Mr Rogut cites research the AACS recently commissioned from SMR Global. The research delved into “the attitudes and opinions of consumers of voting age on a range of key issues affecting the convenience industry in Australia”. These included:

  • The legalisation of e-cigarettes
  • The illicit trade of tobacco
  • Permitting convenience stores to sell packaged alcohol.

According to the AACS, the results are “compelling”, especially in their capacity to influence people’s votes:

  • 48 per cent of all Australians (smokers and non-smokers) feel strongly enough about the legalisation of e-cigarettes for it to influence their vote.
  • 51 per cent of all Australians (smokers and non-smokers) would consider changing their vote if the major parties differed in their response to tackling the illicit tobacco trade.
  • 45 per cent of consumers support convenience stores having a licence to sell packaged alcohol. By contrast, 24 per cent of people are neutral and 31 per cent oppose the idea.

A fairer go

Mr Rogut says the findings show that “average hard-working Australians” want a fairer go for small businesses.

“There’s a groundswell of support for real measures that promote a more level playing field so small businesses like convenience stores can more effectively compete with the larger supermarket chains,” he said.

Zero tolerance of crime

The AACS is also pushing for “a zero-tolerance approach” to crimes committed against convenience stores.

“It’s unacceptable for anyone to face the fear of a violent crime being committed against them in the course of their work,” Mr Rogut said.

“Smarter deterrents and tougher penalties are part of the response we’re calling for to protect people in our industry.”

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