More cash and no more lockdowns: Key election demands from SMEs revealed

interview question boot small business

Source: AAP/Lukas Coch.

More cash from the government and no more lockdowns were among the top demands from more than 500 SMEs, who also think Labor is going to win the election, a new survey reveals.

Around a third of respondents (28.8%) said avoiding more lockdowns was the best way the government could help Australian business, with two-thirds of respondents, some 63.3%, putting it in their top three priorities.

About a fifth of respondents said more financial support from the government would be the best way to help, while 59% put this demand in their top three priorities.

About 45.5% said they believed Labor will win May’s federal election, with 35.8% predicting another Liberal-led government, 15.1% saying they were not sure and 2.7% choosing other.

Labor has not held government in Australia since 2013, but consecutive Newspolls show the federal Opposition is in a strong position heading into the election.

Liberals in front on cost of living, but Labor leading on jobs

The survey’s results were gathered by people-management platform Employment Hero, which spoke to 528 Australian SMEs to get their views.

When it comes to bolstering employment management for small businesses, about a third of respondents urged the incoming government to replace state payroll taxes with federal GST distributions.

It comes as tensions are simmering between the states over the distribution of the GST, namely Western Australia’s cut allocated under the now-incorrect assumption it would not experience another resource boom — a division Prime Minister Scott Morrison has called a “forever deal”.

When it came to Labor and the Liberal Party’s scorecard on major platforms, the survey’s results were interesting.

About 40% said they believed the Liberals were better at managing inflation and the cost of living, although 25% voted “neither”, indicating either disillusionment or an alignment with the Nationals, Greens, or minor fringe parties/independents.

When it comes to managing the country’s taxation, the Liberals were also seen as a better bet with 42.2% of SMEs siding with the government.

However, according to figures published by Treasury, the two highest-taxing governments in the past half a century have both been Coalition governments — John Howard’s era in first place, and Scott Morrison’s era in second.

On the political hot-potato issue of job seekers and job vacancies, 40.2% sided with the Labor party, even though Labor Leader Anthony Albanese was red-faced after forgetting the unemployment rate this week, and Morrison upcycled a December pledge to create 1.3 million jobs by 2030.

Likewise, 41.7% of SMEs said Labor was a better manager of industrial relations, though the parties are nearly tied on issues like access to raw materials, supply chain crises, and cashflow.

On the issue of overall economic management, however, 45.5% of SMEs sided with the Liberal Party on what is a tricky question to answer given interest rates are higher under Labor governments, but taxes and unemployment are both lower.

Federal opposition Treasury spokesperson Jim Chalmers rejected the idea the Coalition is better at economic management in an opinion piece for The Australian this morning, writing: “This Coalition government has taxed more, borrowed more, and spent more than the last Labor government — but delivered less”.

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