Government spending and Fair Work top concerns for small businesses: ACCI survey

Small businesses have ranked government spending and industrial relations laws as more important issues than the Australian dollar, according to a new survey conducted by the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

Despite constant complaints from businesses over the high dollar and tough market conditions, the latest pre-election survey from the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry found 61% of businesses ranked the level of government spending as a major concern.

This level was even higher for small businesses, with 83.5% ranking spending as one of their largest concerns.

Of the 17,000 businesses surveyed, 57.3% also ranked regulatory compliance as a major worry, with this number increasing to 84.3% of medium sized businesses.

A total of 87.2% of respondents also said the government should reform its Fair Work laws to increase productivity and flexibility and 57.1% of businesses strongly agreed small business should be exempt from unfair dismissal laws.

Businesses have continued to complain the level of compliance required for Fair Work regulations impedes on their ability to trade.

Other government-based issues such as the level of government debt and level of taxation also ranked in the top four concerns, while only 23.9% of businesses said the high exchange rate was concerning, with 9.6% of the respondents not concerned at all.

The level of interest rates and rate of inflation were ranked even lower on the list of issues.

Releasing the findings at Parliament House, ACCI chief executive Peter Anderson said the survey results were particularly reflective of the mindset of small businesses.

“There are especially telling results for small business which comprised 60% of survey respondents and who feel disenfranchised by the political system,” he says.

Anderson says the results of the survey need to be understood and acted upon by the federal government.

“These findings can’t be ignored as they confirm just why the Reserve Bank cut rates this week – to take cost pressure off doing business. Next week’s budget and the next government must respond likewise,” he says.

The Coalition’s paid parental leave scheme has been under fire in recent days and ACCI found 84.3% of respondents agreed businesses shouldn’t be the “paymasters” of the scheme.

The survey also found four in five Australian businesses are concerned about the increase in the superannuation levy from 9% to 12%, with 63% of businesses ranking this as a major worry.

Businesses rated company tax reductions, personal income tax reductions and the abolition of the carbon tax as the top three priority reforms.

Council of Small Businesses of Australia executive director Peter Strong told SmartCompany the most frequent issues of concern reported to him by small business owners are to do with red tape, contract laws and regulation.

“In small business, it’s about compliance issues,” he says.

“I’m not surprised about the Australian dollar ranking lower than these other issues. But each sector has their own issues of major concern.”

Out of the 1700 businesses survey, there was 1096 small business respondents and 478 medium-sized businesses included. ACCI intend to detail specific small business findings as part of its Too Big to Ignore campaign.



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