Eva Baxter writes:
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.”
Gary Munn writes:
How hard can it be?
These five words have come to define the life of City of Sydney Councillor Angela Vithoulkas.
“It’s a common flaw of mine, that one,” she says as we discuss her involvement in the class action to fairly compensate small business owners impacted by Sydney’s light rail construction, which drew infamy for interminable timeline and budgetary blowouts.
It’s these same five words, Vithoulkas says, which inspired her to start her first business (she has owned 17 hospitality businesses) and then enter local politics.
“I’d be serving sex workers first thing in the morning and business people at lunch time – I got to know all walks of life in this city,” she says.
The Erin Brockovich of Sydney
A twice elected City of Sydney councillor (2012 and 2016), Vithoulkas made an unsuccessful run in 2019 for the federal seat of Wentworth as an independent and also for state parliament after in 2017 establishing the Small Business Matters party.
But it’s the city council where she’s been able to make herself heard, as a passionate advocate for local business owners with a unique voice.
It’s using that voice that galvanised her with multiple other business owners to challenge the “unfairness” in the compensation offered to business owners impacted by the light rail.
“The state government provided some financial assistance after me fighting for 18 months, using $40,000 of my own money for it – but it only covers those who had a shop directly on the light rail construction line. So, not those with businesses upstairs. They were equally impacted. And that’s unfair,” she says. “I couldn’t abandon everyone else. So I set about single mindedly trying to change it, thinking: how hard can it be?”
She compares it to Erin Brockovich’s fight, and says she feels equally underestimated: “As far as anyone in government or mainstream media is concerned, I’m not the go to person for small business,” she says. “The National Retailers Association is: any middle aged man who’s got a CEO position and university qualification … and who’s never worked a day in a small business.”
It isn’t the first time she’s used her own funds to – literally – put her money where her mouth is; she sold her house to help fund her campaign for a second term, and to make up for losses caused by the light rail construction.
“No one thought I could do it,” she says of taking on the fight. “But then no one ever thinks I can. No one ever thought I could get elected the first time in 2012. Or the second in 2016. And nobody thinks I can do it again, either.”
More than 2,000 businesses have been crippled by the disastrous State Government’s CBD ‘Lightrail Project’ which was meant to take months but took years.
Listen as I speak on 2GB Drive with Jim Wilson about what happened, the progress of our class action law suit against Transport NSW, why I’ve been in politics ever since and am running for #LordMayor #CityofSydney.
Don’t let local and state government ruin our local businesses again!
Protection of your interests starts with representation in government.
Remember you have hope, and have somebody to fight for you – December 4th, Vote 1 Angela Vithoulkas, The Small Business Party.
Its not often that small business owners get to matter in politics and government. In fact almost never. Except in council elections in NSW.
But you need to be registered in order to get on the roll to vote. Its a process. Come on, make the effort 🙂
Don’t waste the opportunity to change the way government works at a grass roots level, and don’t underestimate your power to make a difference.
If I’ve learnt nothing else in my 9 years as an elected representative of small business – THE ONLY ONE IN AUSTRALIA in fact, its that you have to be IN IT to WIN IT.
Yes, I’m asking people to VOTE for me in the City of Sydney, but even more importantly I’m asking small business to give themselves the opportunity to CHOOSE who they want to represent them, even if its not me.
Listen to the full interview here:
Yes, there is a Road Map to open up, BUT Small Business are:
DIRECTED by NSW Government to EDUCATE their customers & staff
on getting vaccinated. So while your worrying about SERVING your customers, making coffee, cleaning tables, finding staff, buying stock, paying the rent (and everything else) we are expected to
explain to people why they need to be double VACCINATED…..Sorry, but WHAT?
ENFORCE the vaccination passport by insisting on seeing evidence/proof that they have double vaccination otherwise NO ENTRY. I wonder if TAFE is offering that course alongside RSA & RSG? How can any #SmallBusinessOwner direct there staff to be in the firing line of confrontation on behalf of State Government?
Or they can risk a $5000.00 fine.
So, according to the Road Map, if they wait until Dec 1, 6 weeks after Oct 11 they wont have to worry about any of that.
Last night on Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) The Drum I joined #JuliaBaird along with #BradMcKay, #JohnDavis
My fellow #SmallBusiness owners are petrified, even after this morning’s press conference, the NSW Premier further reiterated that there is NO actual plan, let alone a COVID Safe Plan for small businesses to open up. There are no real assurances for business owners, despite the bureaucrats having over 18 months of hindsight when seeing what has happened overseas.
Not only that, there is still no actual date set for the reopening of all businesses (however there is a date set for opening of schools), yet they keep telling us to “be prepared and ready”.
Be prepared for what? Telling us to open our café’s with 24 hours notice?
Or allowing people to book venue’s for… a date I’m not even sure of?
Rehire staff when I still don’t know who can/how many.
And wait for it…If you live in or have a business in one of the 12 LGA’s of concern I still don’t know whether I will be able to open up anytime soon, so why do they keep telling us to be prepared and excited??
Will people be able to enter your premises? Spend $30k (that you don’t have) to reopen and run the risk of a positive case among staff or customers, then what?
Worst yet, open your business BUT it will only remain open on the condition that there are no high rates of transmission in the local community because I could be locked up or locked out again?!
Also, please explain this: why will the pubs be full while you can’t service a funeral or wedding with more than 50 people?
The #SmallBusinessOwners of Sydney and NSW demand answers, a REAL plan, accountability and reassurances.
If you’re concerned about opening up your business, please send me a message or get in touch with me or leave a comment here.
Councillor Angela Vithoulkas – who is not only one of the City of Sydney’s ten councillors but the founder and leader of the Small Business Party – has voiced concerns over the matter.
“Never has there been a time more significant for small business be to heard than now, especially for our devastated CBD businesses,” Vithoulkas said.
“But unless they get registered to vote for the upcoming council elections, they could miss out on their democratic right to vote and be represented. The deadline is September 27 for City of Sydney small businesses, while it’s October 25 for every other council area in NSW. There are potentially 73,000 small businesses in the City of Sydney council area who have the right to vote for representation in council, even if they don’t live here. And considering business pays almost 80 per cent of the rates revenue, they should have a say as to how the city is run.”
I may not have finished my education, but I have never stopped learning! Reflecting on this I now know that if I could go back I would have stayed in school. Which brings me to the point: the issues and challenges our youth of Sydney are currently facing requires their direct input. This is why in the upcoming City of Sydney Council Election I have put forward as one of my policies is to have our very own Youth Council.
Imagine, 24 young people aged between 13-24 coming together to discuss and work through and address the issues that matter to them. The ‘Youth Council’ will be taken seriously and conducted just like our current council meetings, with meetings and reporting.
Leader of the Small Business Party Cr Angela Vithoulkas discusses the response to COVID by state and federal governments.
Mitchell’s Front Page is a local show that covers the issues of the day in Geelong, and speaks to leading Geelong people. Mondays and Tuesdays from 9-11am on 94.7 The Pulse.
In the time of Covid-19, small businesses need strong representation more than ever. John Moyle spoke with Small Business Party (SBP) founder and leader Angela Vithoulkas, as well as SBP members and supporters, about the issues facing small businesses in the current climate.
I believe and know that the City has done nothing to advocate for the realities that small businesses are facing. Part of the City’s remit in governance is to advocate to other levels of government on behalf of our residents and business owners, and the only thing that the City has done is photo opportunities with state government and a crack at the federal government for not rolling out the vaccine faster.
Last year, 2020, within a couple of weeks, the CBD was emptied as people transitioned to working from home, and thousands of small businesses began to wither due to a lack of trade.
This second time around, there has been an even greater impact, as recovery and assistance measures have been lacking, and the state government’s stimulus for small business is proving illusionary at best.
“The CBD is down to two per cent foot traffic and the help that these businesses need is cash,”.
Paul Crossin is standing with me in the fight for small business to have a say at the table.
“We know that this is not working but nobody is talking about it and I would put this right at the [door of the] state government who created this mess.”
“How Covid will impact on the major cities and their sense of community is a real challenge and I don’t hear anyone talking about that,” Crossin said.
“Rebuilding is going to be a major challenge and you hear someone like Harry Triguboff saying that he will be converting some of his officer floors into residential to try and bring people back into the city.
“Major corporations are downsizing due to the decrease in the floor space they need.
“What is Council going to do about that and how is the state government going to accomodate that?”
Alex Greenwich, Member for Sydney in the NSW Parliament, has urged the Berejiklian Government to withdraw the Environmental Planning and Assessment Amendment (Infrastructure Contributions) Bill 2021 – a controversial document which aims to implement sweeping reforms to the state’s infrastructure contributions framework.
Speaking to the Sentinel, Mr Greenwich said the Bill could rob local councils of vital funds by redirecting developers’ contributions away from local government bodies to the state government.
“The Environmental Planning and Assessment Amendment (Infrastructure Contributions) Bill … could hamstring the funds councils rely on to ensure residents in new developments have access to necessary services and infrastructure, without draining on existing facilities,” Mr Greenwich said.
“Extraordinarily, the Bill was inappropriately attached to the budget appropriation bills without any notice or opportunity for assessment or consultation,” he said.
Mr Greenwich said he had raised the issue with parliamentary colleagues, telling the Sentinel: “I have informed the government that I do not support this bill and will continue to push for its withdrawal.”
‘Total disregard for local government’
They want us to take the heat’: Vithoulkas
Councillor Angela Vithoulkas from the Small Business Party, told the Sentinel the Bill was an “outrageous” act, which equated to “robbing” councils of vital funds.
“What the state government is effectively saying is ‘I’m going to need 50 per cent of your allowance because things are tough right now. And to make up the shortfall, you can raise your rates,’” she said.
“Every council relies on developers’ contributions to conduct their essential business and provide infrastructure.
“Taking money from us and expecting us to raise our rates to cover the shortfall … means they want us to take the heat for their decisions.”
Ms Vithoulkas – who is running for a third term as a City of Sydney councillor at the NSW local government elections in December – said residents and businesses could not be burdened with further costs, citing the ongoing economic impacts of the Covid-19 lockdown, as well as rising land taxes.
The NSW local government elections have been postponed for a second time due to Covid-19, this time pushed back to Saturday, 4 December.
NSW Minister for Local Government Shelley Hancock said the decision to move the election date from 4 September was made following consultation with the NSW Electoral Commission and NSW Health.
“Due to the Covid-19 pandemic and current public health orders impacting Greater Sydney, we have made the difficult decision to postpone the local government elections until later this year,” she said.
“We have taken this step to … ensure the safety and wellbeing of our communities, voters, polling staff and candidates.”
The elections for the state’s 125 local councils were initially due to be held in September 2020 but were moved to September 2021 due to safety concerns around the Covid-19 pandemic.
In a statement released today, the NSW Government said iVote (electronic voting) would be available on 4 December for the first time in the local council elections, in a bid to ensure voters’ safety.
The government has also implemented changes to pre-polling, with voters set to have 13 days to cast their ballot, to reduce congestion at booths on polling day.