Complaints in the business community about the impact on trade by ongoing political uncertainty have run across the spectrum of businesses large and small.
Following Malcolm Turnbull’s election to the Prime Minister, the Business Council of Australia’s Kate Carnell stated that the close outcome of Liberal Party’s leadership vote would not redress an ongoing slide in business confidence. Some small business people have also expressed dismay at the outcome.
John Packerveck, a six-month member of the multi-level marketing group, Socialist Alternative, expressed fear that the successful spill would undermine his profitability. “’F–k Tony Abbott’ t-shirt sales have continued to build month on month,” he observed.
“When the spill vote was called, I was crapping myself that the shirts I had in stock would become obsolete. I’m now going to have boxes and boxes of these things cluttering up every spare corner the squat, while the ‘F–k Malcom Turnbull’ are being printed.” Mr Packerveck is now concerned about his liquidity.
The shirts, which first came onto the market at the end of 2013, have remained strong sellers, but consumer interest jumped following the 2014 Budget speech. “At first I couldn’t meet demand”, Packerveck said, “but demand kept building and building, so I first doubled my weekly order, then doubled that again. By the Sir Philip thing, I’d shifted my product mix away from the ‘First Fleet: Boat People’ range completely into units of ‘F–k Tony’. I’ve fallen into the trap of thinking only in growth terms.”
It was only when the spill vote was first brought on by maverick West Australian backbenchers in January that sellers realised the product life-cycle might be shorter than he first believed.
“Talk about sovereign risk! One decision in Canberra and my whole profit for this quarter has been lost in useless stock,” observed Avi Roy, who’s been doing a strong trade at rallies and local markets.
Other sellers have been similarly chastened. Sally Manus, who had recently moved from selling the group’s regular lifestyle magazine, Red Flag, to the t-shirts, initially was pleased with the move. “It was a no brainer: the value add on a t-shirt is so much higher than the paper and you were never caught with surplus when a new edition came out,” she said.
But with the first spill motion Manus was one of the more entrepreneurial sellers who rapidly diversified her product mix. “Many of my comrades have started stocking Syriza forever! Shirts,” she stated, “but following this brush with contemporary politics I went straight back to the classic Che T.”
“His anti-capitalist message never seems to go out of fashion,” she observes.