Politics

Fast Lane: It’s election year and small business must have a seat at the table

Eloise Keating /

 

Two business surveys released this morning show Australian businesses are heading into 2016 with optimism.

The December quarter results of the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s Business Expectation Survey shows business conditions and confidence among the businesses surveyed recovering. Overall business sentiment has improved for the three consecutive quarters and is now close to the five-year average of 46.5.

Sales revenue and export sales among Australian businesses have been following a similar positive pattern, according to the survey.

Likewise, the latest survey of chief executives by the Australian Industry Group found Australian chief executives are more optimistic about general business conditions this year, compared to any time during the past three years.

Of the 250 businesses surveyed, 63% said they expect annual sales to improve this year, compared to 21% of businesses that expect no change and 16% that expect a decrease.
If these indicators accurately reflect the daily reality of Australian businesses, including SMEs, the picture they paint is one of improvements in business growth and expansion.

This is important in a year when voters will go to the polls to cast their judgment on the performance of the federal government.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull last week indicated the 2016 federal election will happen later rather than sooner.

“There will be an election … all other things being equal, in August, September, October, the latter part of the year, he said in a radio interview according to news.com.au.

But there is plenty of work to be done before then, with the business community still waiting to see what the government’s taxation and industrial relations policy platform will look like.

As details of those policies emerge over the coming months, the Prime Minister and his colleagues will do well to keep the current optimism of Australian businesses front of mind.

And to give those optimistic businesses – especially those in the small and medium business sector – a seat at the negotiation table.

 

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Eloise Keating

Eloise Keating is the editor of SmartCompany. Previously, Eloise was news editor at Books+Publishing, the trade press for the Australian book industry.

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