Businesses “undecided” over carbon tax preparation

A new survey reveals almost half of Australian businesses are “undecided” if they are prepared for the implications of the carbon tax, but increased costs are identified as the most likely impact.


The survey, conducted by the Australian Institute of Management Victoria and Tasmania, is based on the responses of 936 business leaders across all industry sectors, including government.


The survey examines the flow-on impact of Labor’s new carbon tax, and examines whether organisations are prepared for its introduction.


When asked whether their organisation is prepared for the implications of the carbon tax, 48% were undecided. Almost 30% disagreed with the statement, while 7% strongly disagreed.


“There is a high degree of pessimism in Australian organisations about their preparedness to deal with the flow-on implications of the carbon tax,” the report said.


The report says only 23% were confident enough to say they were prepared for the implications of the carbon tax.


Encouragingly, business owners are the most likely (45%) to believe their organisation is ready to deal with the implications of the tax.


However, when asked to identify the ways in which it will impact their organisation, “increased costs” is the top perceived impact at 59%.


This view is consistent across all organisation sizes and sectors, but is considered the greatest impact among owner-managers and sole traders (58%) and businesses with fewer than 20 staff (57%).


While 34% of survey respondents say the tax will improve sustainability practices, 28% believe it will reduce profitability, while 20% believe it will increase internal workloads.


Australian Institute of Management Victoria and Tasmania chief executive Susan Heron says the research confirms that many small businesses are “in for a shock” when the tax commences in July.


“We have been particularly concerned many small and medium-sized enterprises… will think the carbon tax has no relevance to them,” Heron says.


Almost one third of survey participants (30%) say their organisations have not started planning for the requirements of the carbon tax or its flow-on impact.


“The trend is the larger the organisation, the more likely it is to have started work preparing for the onset of the tax,” the report said.


“58% of respondents with organisations employing up to 20 people…have not started preparations to deal with the tax.”


“Many small and medium-sized organisations are simply not ready for the flow-on implications of the carbon tax.”


According to Heron, the survey highlights the need for employers to fully engage with their workforce on how the carbon tax will impact on operations.


“Effective workplace dialogue – on how the tax will impact on the organisation – will lead to greater awareness of the relevant issues [and] more engaged employees.”


The AIM survey comes on the back of the latest Bibby Barometer Small Business Survey, which surveyed primary decision-makers in more than 200 non-retail SMEs nationwide.


The survey reveals small business owners are increasingly concerned about the current global situation, with almost half (47%) more concerned than they were a year ago.


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