Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s surprise announcement about this year’s federal election has been welcomed by the business community for giving “certainty” to small firms.
Gillard, who has confirmed Australia will go to the polls on September 14, said the early announcement will enable individuals, businesses, investors and consumers to “plan their year”.
The last time a federal election was held in September was in 1946, according to Anthony Green, election analyst for the ABC. The most common month for a federal poll is December.
As part of her agreement with independent MPs Rob Oakeshott and Tony Windsor, Gillard had agreed to hold the election in either September or October.
Windsor said the early announcement will “reduce the space devoted to the hype surrounding the choice of a date usually until six weeks before an election”.
Oakeshott said the announcement will allow Parliament to focus on more pressing issues.
“There are nine more important sitting weeks of this Parliament,” he said in a statement.
“The challenge now is for this time to be spent focused on the ongoing policy and reform detail… that many Australians want to see delivered before the year is over.
“Campaigning and electioneering throughout these nine final sitting weeks, while this detailed work is being done, should be seen for what it is – serving the interests of political parties, not the interests of the nation.”
Peter Strong, executive director of the Council of Small Business of Australia, told StartupSmart it’s “good to know” the election date.
“The thing from the small business community is they like to live with certainty,” Strong says.
“All those businesses in industries like retail and hospitality now know when the election is and when the campaign will be, and can plan their year accordingly… It’s all good news.”
Peter Anderson, chief executive of the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, also welcomed the announcement.
“But the much, much more important issue is not knowing the date of voting but knowing what Julia Gillard and Tony Abbott plan to do for industry and jobs, especially small business,” Anderson said in a statement.
“There should be an early disclosure of polices, plans and visions for a stronger economy and a bidding war about who can do better on that score.
“Given this was always an election year, the early announcement of the date doesn’t add or detract greatly to business certainty this side of 14th September.
“Its real value is the knowledge that the last quarter of the year will be uninterrupted by an election.”
Anderson said ACCI will be imposing a business agenda that supports a stronger economy and SMEs directly into the election year debate.
ACCI highlighted key business issues that must frame the election, including:
- Better infrastructure – through reallocation of spending priorities and partnering with the private sector.
- Workplace productivity – through increased skills development, participation, cost relief and changes to Fair Work laws.
- Tax and finance reform – through reduced government intervention and reallocation of spending priorities.
- Red tape reduction – through lower compliance costs, fewer new laws and better quality regulation.