“Do you hear the people sing?” - Les Miserables

In 1854 the miners for gold rebelled against colonial authorities in Ballarat. They were broken. Broken from back breaking work for little or no return. Broken by the expensive license for the right to chase a dream. Broken by onerous taxation, imposed upon them and enforced with the heavy hand of the government, police and military. A swift and deadly siege by Colonial forces quashed the rebellion, but not the spirit of the rebels. Mass public support for the movement resulted in legislative reform and the Electoral Act was born in 1856. The legacy of the ‘Eureka Stockade’ blends free spirit over tyranny, independent free enterprise over burdensome taxation and labour against the privileged ruling class. It was an early expression of republicanism and set the tone for societal collaboration for ‘the greater good’. Aussie! Aussie! Aussie!

The Big Squeeze.

Jump forward to the present day. There remains a familiarity to the plight of the mining entrepreneurs. Whilst there were micro hierarchies within the gold mining enterprises, the majority of the movement were entrepreneurs chasing a dream. The entrepreneurs were the labour force, the working class. In 2020 hospitality operators are simply senior members of the working class, wedged between Government, employees, suppliers and landlords. The ‘quad vice’ is squeezing the life out of us and our industry.

Yet, we still front up. We still invest. We still love it. It is a beautiful industry which we are happy to represent without the riches that would be so nice. I will settle for a fair playing field, where all participants prosper and we are incentivised to stick this out, reinvest in our businesses and play our part in rebuilding the economy. If for nothing else, to keep our mental health and that of our people and fellow industry participants. Don’t let this ‘thing’ beat us.

Who’s with me?

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