Election issues under the spotlight: AACS

The Australasian Association of Convenience Stores (AACS) has urged the Coalition and Labor to take heed of the vote influencing significance of giving small business a fairer go when it comes to competing with the major chains.

“Small business is invariably trumpeted as the backbone of the economy every time an election comes round, as the major issues facing small business operators and their employees are predictably elevated in public conversation by politicians eager for votes,” said AACS CEO Jeff Rogut. “Now it’s time to walk the talk.”

He also noted, “Convenience stores are pillars of the local communities they serve and as customers make a trip to our stores part of their daily routines, we are also a barometer for consumer sentiment in many ways. And our customers typically agree that the issues affecting small business deserve greater recognition.”

SMR Global recently investigated the attitudes and opinions of consumers of voting age on a range of key issues affecting the convenience industry in Australia, including the legalisation of e-cigarettes, the illicit trade of tobacco and permitting convenience stores to sell packaged alcohol.

The findings are found to be “compelling” – especially in terms of the potential for these issues 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

Rogut said the findings show that average hard-working Australians want a fairer go for small businesses. “There is 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 noted. “If small business is the key battleground on which this election will be won and lost, as both parties have acknowledged, then it’s time for actions to usurp words and for politicians to commit to working with industry to advance some of the policy areas that are holding small businesses like convenience stores back from reaching their full potential.”

Some of the key areas the AACS is pushing for reform in include:

  • Progressing the development of an appropriate legal framework for the sale of e-cigarettes, to make information on the potential benefits of these products more widely available and accessible through convenience stores, following various international examples;
  • Cracking down on the illicit trade of tobacco, currently estimated to cost the Australian Government over $1.9 billion in lost tax revenue each year;
  • Securing the right for convenience stores to sell packaged alcohol should they so choose; and
  • Securing improved support from Government and law enforcement authorities in taking a zero-tolerance approach to crimes committed against convenience stores.

While these issues cross State and Federal lines in terms of Government responsibility, the AACS believes a coordinated effort from Governments at all levels is necessary to provide the proper support small businesses need.

 

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