Business owners have long been regarded as the natural constituency of the Coalition. So three months into a Labor/Rudd Government, with economic conditions slipping and IR changes on the horizon, one might expect business owners to be turning against Labor.
In fact two reports, from SmartCompany and Sensis, show that business owners are not disenchanted with Labor and are approaching the new Government with an open mind.
A report from Sensis of 1800 small and medium businesses found that support for Federal Government policies fell strongly following the change from Coalition to Labor. In November, 46% said they were supportive of the then federal government policies. That fell to 15% in February.
Business owners were concerned about the lack of incentives, changes to industrial relations policies and increased union influence.
However the new Federal Government was still the equal third most supported government in Australia by small business. (NSW is the least supported.) And 65% of the business owners feel there has been no impact from the Coalition handing power to Labor.
A snap SmartCompany poll of 78 business owners this week shows that 61% voted Coalition.
The results are surprising. When asked about the performance of the Rudd Government in regards to IR, a quarter of the Coalition voters say they are pleased and half the respondents are still not sure. Only a quarter say they are disappointed.
Even more are pleased with the way Labor is handing economic conditions (37%) and 25% are unsure. A further 37% are disappointed in Rudd’s handling of the economy.
But when it comes to how well they believe the Rudd Government is supporting small and medium businesses, the news is not good. Half the Coalition voters are disappointed with only 12% pleased and the rest unsure.
The results are more interesting because business owners are feeling the pinch. About 39% say they are less likely to hire staff this year than last.
About 30% of SmartCompany Poll respondents voted Labor. Of those, the majority are happy with the Government’s IR performance (65%) and economic conditions (61%).
Of these Labor voters, very few are disappointed (4%) with the new Government, but a third (34%) are not sure.
They are less certain about the support the Government is providing the SME sector, with 30% pleased, 9% disappointed, and 61% not sure.