A majority of business owners want the government to develop policies to bolster industry in sectors where Australia has a competitive advantage, a new study suggests.
The survey also shows a slight uptick in the number of Australian businesses that have experienced growth in the last six months while nearly two thirds are forecasting revenue growth over the next year.
Galaxy Research conducted a survey of 513 executive managers and business owners in September for Servcorp’s Australian Business Growth Monitor, published twice a year.
It found that 46 per cent of businesses were now experiencing revenue growth, up from 44 per cent in March. In addition, 38 per cent had increased their services while 51 per cent had increased their client base.
The survey also recorded business sentiment on a number of key economic questions. For example, a majority of 54 per cent of businesses believed the government should focus on boosting competitiveness rather than balancing the budget. Only 35 per cent of respondents believed the main priority should be balancing the budget.
Of those surveyed, 41 per cent believed the government’s main priority should be to reduce taxes affecting small businesses while about 15 per cent believed the government’s main efforts should be directed to ensuring there was no increase to the rate or base of the GST.
In addition, 65 per cent believed the government should engage in “picking winners” by providing assistance to those industry sectors in which Australia enjoyed a competitive advantage over other economies.
In July, Business Council of Australia President Catherine Livingstone said that Australia needed to be focused more on the specific requirements of each sector of the economy to maximise competitive advantages.
“Every policy should be designed to support and extend Australia’s economic strengths by building on sectors with a comparative advantage and helping others to transition with minimum disruption,” she said.
There was strong sentiment that government was not lifting its weight to improve business conditions with 66 per cent believing the state government was not doing enough and 64 per cent believing the federal government was also falling short in its efforts.
There was also hostility towards the Australian Taxation Office, with 62 per cent believing the ATO was not favourably disposed towards business growth while 56 per cent believed the major banks didn’t do enough to give a leg-up to businesses.
While 25 per cent of respondents believed there were ample business opportunities in Australia, many were holding back overseas expansion out of uncertainty over access to finance and local knowledge of foreign markets.