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New poll: Howard losing the SME vote

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Business owners have long been perceived to be a key constituency of the coalition. But a Smartcompany–Roy Morgan poll of 769 small and medium businesses has found that only 51% say they will vote Liberal; 35% say they will vote Labor and the remainder are divided between other parties, with only 3% not saying.

And the growing tension in the Howard leadership could cost votes. With fresh rumours this morning that Howard could be tapped on the shoulder by his key lieutenants (which have since been denied), the poll shows that if the Liberals were re-elected, 36% would have concerns about the leadership uncertainty.

When asked what would concern them if the Liberal–National coalition were to win the election, 43% of business owners polled said they were worried about integrity.

Their other concerns included:

  • Foreign policy (Iraq) 43%
  • Handling of environmental issues 41%
  • Social issues such as health and education 37%
  • Being in power too long 33%
  • Approach to IR 29%
  • Interest rates will increase 15%
  • Economic management 8%

For labor it is a completely different story. If Labor is elected business owners are concerned about:

  • Poor economic management 52%
  • Union power 51%
  • Approach to IR 47%
  • Inexperience 40%
  • ALP in control of all governments 39%
  • Interest rates increasing 32%
  • Integrity 20%
  • Foreign policy 16%
  • Social issues such as health and education 12%
  • Handling of environmental issues 11%

In a sign that the Howard Government is also receiving this message from their traditional constituency, Treasurer Peter Costello indicated this morning that he would support National Senator Barnaby Joyce’s amendments to the Trade Practices Act.

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