Finance, Legal, Management

Thomson and Slipper woes compound Labor’s struggle with business vote

Michelle Hammond /

The reputation of the Federal Labor Government among businesses continues to falter, new figures show, as Prime Minister Julia Gillard attempts to cuts her losses over the Craig Thomson and Peter Slipper controversies.

 

According to the Galaxy poll, Labor’s primary vote has plummeted from 34% – taken before the leadership ballot between Gillard and former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd – to just 30%.

 

More than 50% believe Gillard displayed poor political judgment in her handling of separate allegations of corruption against Thomson and Slipper.

 

Yesterday, Gillard all but conceded she had underestimated public sentiment, saying “a line had been crossed”, with both men effectively benched until further notice.

 

Meanwhile, it’s been revealed more executive tax perks are set to be hit in the Federal Budget, which could save the government $1 billion over four years.

 

The crackdown will see a one-year cap on executives claiming tax-free cash for living away from home.

 

Treasurer Wayne Swan said the savings show he’s serious about returning the budget to surplus, but new research shows businesses continue to remain unimpressed by the government’s actions.

 

The 2012 MYOB Business Monitor shows one in two survey respondents are dissatisfied with the government’s support for helping businesses – such as their own – succeed.

 

The monitor is based on a survey of 1,043 small and medium business owners and directors, from sole traders to mid-sized companies, across major industry sectors.

 

Over the past two years, the proportion of dissatisfied respondents has increased significantly, from 38% in the March 2010 report to 52% in the March 2012 report.

 

However, the latest result was lower than the highest level of performance dissatisfaction recorded by the study – 56% in October 2011 and July 2008.

 

Only 11% of respondents said they were satisfied with the support provided, while 36% were neutral on the subject.

 

Alarmingly, more than half of the survey respondents (51%) said the government demonstrated a high level of disrespect towards businesses such as theirs.

 

MYOB chief executive Tim Reed says Australia’s political leaders are facing a full agenda, including the carbon tax and the pending 650% rise in the instant asset write-off threshold.

 

“[The agenda also includes] a significant realignment of all income tax rates… and a pending reduction in company tax rates for SMEs that are incorporated,” Reed says.

 

“Many changes will be good for many small businesses, but they must plan well if they are to capitalise on the opportunities.”

 

“It will be interesting to see later in the year if the policies strike a chord with them.”

 

Reducing paperwork and investing further in city transport infrastructure were among the top political initiatives that would turn SMEs’ election votes towards the party that proposed them.

 

The top five initiatives were:

  • More Federal Government investment in transport infrastructure in major states and cities (68%).
  • Policies that significantly simplify the GST/BAS reporting process (67%).
  • The abolition of the carbon tax (61%).
  • Increased government funding for research and development by businesses (60%).
  • Introduction of a “Buy Aussie Made” policy for all central and local government procurement where possible (60%).

The top five initiatives that would turn SMEs’ votes against the party that proposed them were:

  • The sale of state assets to assist reducing government debt levels (54%).
  • The introduction of a heavy transport fuel levy (50%).
  • The creation of a common currency and economic zone with New Zealand (39%).
  • The adoption of Andrew Wilkie’s proposed poker machine reforms (33%).
  • The abolition of the intended rise of the Superannuation Guarantee Levy from 9% to 12% over the next four years (32%).

“Transport-related issues feature heavily in the top rungs of the SME voting ladder… Fuel prices ranked above all others, followed closely by cashflow and interest rates,” Reed says.

 

“If either party is looking to turn the tide of sentiment firmly towards them, they should at the very least look to improve business transport conditions and simplify… red tape.”

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