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SMEs split on preferred party less than two weeks from election – MYOB survey reveals voting wish list

Yolanda Redrup /

With the federal election just over a week away, a new MYOB survey has revealed only 50% of small business owners believe they would be better off under a Liberal government.

These results are in strong contrast to a SmartCompany poll conducted in February, which found 82.2% would vote Liberal.

Other issues which ranked highly for SMEs in the MYOB survey include more government support for skills training and apprenticeship programs and a proportion of government procurement contracts being assigned to small business.

Of those over 65 years old, 52% said a Liberal government would do “a lot better”, compared to only 12% of Gen Y respondents.

MYOB chief executive Tim Reed told SmartCompany whether a person is a business owner or not, “ages seem to follow the same trends as across the community”.

“Gen Y isn’t nearly as firm in the opinion the Liberals will do better. It just shows the influence of age regardless of the fact they’re business owners, which is a well-documented political trend,”he says.

“This is the first time I’ve seen it established so clearly in the business community.”

The survey also found 26% of the 1,022 small business owners surveyed did not trust either party, giving both sides of politics hope of winning some extra votes before September 7.

Unsurprisingly the highest on the SME election wish list was policies which significantly simplify the GST/BAS reporting process, with 67% of ranking this as a priority.

Also rating strongly was the abolition of the carbon tax with 62%, and more investment in transport infrastructure in major states and cities with 61%.

Surprisingly ranking lower on the list was the abolition of the superannuation guarantee levy from 9% to 12%, as only 33% said this issue was a priority.

Equally low on the list was making the Australian Taxation Office responsible for distribution of superannuation and maternity leave payments, with only 31% of small business owners saying this was a top concern.

Reed says the order of the election priorities revealed in part a lack of understanding of some of the major policy issues among the small business community because of a lack of government communication.

The survey broke the respondents into sectors and the agriculture, forestry and fishing sector said it was most dissatisfied with government support, rising from 66% of the sector in March to 69%.

In a state-by-state analysis, Queensland businesses ranked as the most dissatisfied with federal government support, with 59% of SMEs unhappy.

Victoria followed this on 48% and New South Wales on 43%.

Reed says these results show Prime Minister Kevin Rudd’s criticisms of Queensland Premier Campbell Newman may have harmed his popularity.

“Generally, these levels of dissatisfaction have been with us for a number of years, but they are materially higher than five to 10 years ago. It used to be an even split between those which were satisfied and those which were unsatisfied, but this has been separated for a number of years now,” he says.

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