IPA Keeping In Touch – Mainstream Australians Value Work And Small Business – 2 June 2020

Written by:
2 June 2020
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Dear IPA Members

Mainstream Australians want to go back to work, run their own businesses again, and have their temporarily confiscated freedom of movement and association returned as soon as possible.

A recent IPA poll of over a thousand Australians conducted in April found that 81% agree that “reducing the unemployment caused by the lockdown will be the most important part of recovery”. Young Australians were the most likely to favour the easing of the lockdown measures, which isn’t surprising given it is young Australians whose job and career prospects have been disproportionally affected by the lockdown measures. They are also the ones who will be responsible for paying back the forecast $1 trillion in gross government debt that is expected to accumulate at the commonwealth level alone in the next three years.

These findings are consistent with a long line of IPA research. Polling we commissioned in 2017 as a part of research into the attitudes of young Australians found that 60% of young Australians wanted to start their own business one day, and 98% wanted to own their own home.

In other words, the Australian dream of hard work, small business ownership, and home ownership which are the basis of an aspirational middle-class is alive and well in Australia and amongst Australia’s young.

The IPA’s Director of Policy Daniel Wild pointed out in The Australian on Monday that despite the industrial relations debate being dominated by the narrow interests of unions and big business, mainstream values and attitudes toward work and small business remain strong:

Mainstream Australians may remain mostly quiet. But they are not quitters. They firmly believe in the importance of having a job, being independent and not reliant on taxpayer handouts, the dignity of owning and running a small business, owning their own home, the Australian way of life, freedom of speech and religion, and our egalitarian democratic institutions.

These deeply rooted aspirations and values are why I am confident that, as challenging as the current circumstances may be, Australia can emerge strongly from the COVID-19 lockdown.

Mainstream Australians understand the dignity that comes from work goes beyond the narrow material benefits of a wage. The meaning and purpose provided by work is an important ingredient in developing personal responsibility and flourishing that cannot be replaced by a government handout.

The aspiration for owning and running a small business is foundational to Australian life. Small businesses of less than 20 employees employ over 40% of workers, provide a unique contribution to local communities, and are a vehicle for providing thousands of Australians with the dignity that comes with owning and running their own enterprise.

This is why the plan for industrial relations reform outlined by Prime Minister Morrison at the National Press Club last week was so disappointing.


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