SME confidence lifts under Abbott

Small business satisfaction towards the federal government has risen to its highest level in nearly five years according to a new survey, with one third of respondents expecting their revenue to increase in 2014.

The survey of 1,032 SME’s commissioned by accounting software provider MYOB shows that in March, nearly one quarter or 24 per cent of those surveyed were satisfied with the government’s handling of the small business sector.

This result is up on the September survey showing only 16 per cent of those surveyed were happy with the then Labor government’s handling of small business issues.

Dissatisfaction has also decreased. The most recent results show that 32 per cent of those surveyed were unhappy with the government – down on the 50 per cent who were unhappy in September.

Dissatisfaction with the federal government is now at its lowest level since November 2009 – when it measured in at 31 per cent – while satisfaction is also rating at its highest since November 2009 when it scaled heights of 29 per cent.

The results indicate a new sense of optimism among small business owners following the election of the Liberal government under Prime Minister Tony Abbott.

“The SME business outlook is definitely more upbeat, with one third expecting their revenue to increase in 2014, up from one quarter in September 2013. This indicates the tide is turning for Australia’s economic engine,” MYOB chief executive Tim Reed said.

“SME annual revenue growth is at a level unseen since 2011 – around one quarter reported rising revenue, an improvement on the previous five consecutive surveys. Around one third reported a revenue decline and this was the best result since March 2011.”

The results are in contrast to the results of today’s Nielsen poll showing Labor leading the Coalition by 52 to 48 per cent on a two party preferred basis. The Nielsen poll also shows a significant drop in support for the Abbott government in the regions with the Coalition two-party-preferred vote slumping 10 percentage points outside the capital cities.

The MYOB survey, conducted by Colmar Brunton, also shows small business owners are urging the government to take further action on a number of fronts including the reduction of time-consuming paperwork.

Of 18 potential “vote changing” policy areas presented to respondents, 64 per cent said they wanted the government to simplify the GST and Business Activity Statement process.

Infrastructure was the second most important area for further reform, with 61 per cent of respondents urging the government to invest in better transport systems.

The government, which is proposing to scrap the $6,500 instant asset write-off linked to the former government’s mining tax, has also been urged to keep the current benefit in play with 58 per cent of respondents urging this course of action. At the same time, 40 per cent of respondents want the government to abolish the Minerals Resource Rent Tax.

Removing the GST exemption for online purchases worth less than $1,000 was nominated by 34 per cent of respondents as a vote winning issue.

“Business owners and managers continue to call for tax reform, deregulation and reduction of red tape,” Mr Reed said.

“GST and BAS simplification continue to top the list of initiatives, and with fuel prices always the top SME pressure point, it’s no wonder 61 per cent will vote for the party that proposed more investment in city transport infrastructure.”

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