SMEs highlight disdain for carbon tax

SMEs have highlighted their concerns about the Federal Government’s proposed carbon tax, with a new survey revealing more than half believe the tax will hurt their business.


The Executive Connection recently surveyed the bosses of 300 Australian SMEs, with only 19% pledging their support for the tax, to be introduced on July 1 next year.


Meanwhile, 55% say their business will be adversely affected, and a whopping 86.5% are concerned about the potential rise in electricity costs.


Executive Connection chief executive Chris Gorman says “significant efforts” should be made by the Government to ensure the interests of SMEs are not overlooked when the tax is introduced.


“It’s no easy task running a business. The results of our survey show that SME leaders are genuinely concerned about the introduction of the carbon tax, with rising electricity costs appearing as the top concern,” Gorman says.


“The SME community is clearly concerned that the carbon tax will impose another obstruction in their path, effectively preventing them from running a productive and profitable business.”


The survey shows 60% of respondents expect to be compensated for any additional costs to their business stemming from the introduction of the tax.


“If our results are in any way indicative of the sentiment within the wider business community, failure to sufficiently compensate small business for the associated costs of the tax could be extremely damaging to the economy,” Gorman says.


The survey results follow complaints by the Council of Small Business of Australia that it has not been included in the Government’s peak industry groups to discuss the introduction of the tax.


COSBOA executive director Peter Strong says the concerns of small businesses are worth heeding, given the reduced flexibility of SMEs to pass on price increases.


Strong says COSBOA has requested to participate in the Government’s next round of discussions, having not been invited to a dinner with Prime Minister Julia Gillard this week.


On Wednesday, Gillard hosted a dinner for prominent business leaders to discuss the Government’s plans after a number of large companies issued public complaints about the tax, and business bodies offered only lukewarm support.


Gillard recently called on the Business Council of Australia to clarify its position on a market price on carbon, after the body spoke out against its plans despite supporting the Rudd government’s 2009 push for an emissions trading scheme.


The BCA responded by saying it did support a price on carbon, while the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry has warned of job losses should the tax go ahead.


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