While a majority of business owners are pleased with the return of the Turnbull Government, only one in four (27%) are confident the SME policies the Coalition brought to the election will pass, according to new research from MYOB.
“The latest MYOB SME Snapshot confirmed that many of the policies the government took to the election are popular with small business, but the close election outcome has raised fears that these policies won’t see the light of day,” said Tim Reed, CEO of MYOB.
“The government needs to work quickly and effectively with the Labor Party and cross benches, to build confidence in the SME sector.”
Other findings from the SME Snapshot – a monthly online survey of a section of MYOB’s 1.2 million customers – included:
- The suggestion from one in two small businesses that the government address the risk of increased dissatisfaction by making the $20,000 instant asset tax write-off permanent (52%) and accelerating the company tax rate cut proposals for small business (49%).
- While 77% of SMEs felt the Coalition’s campaign had been impacted by, 71% didn’t believe the Coalition’s election vote was boosted by Brexit.
- SMEs were divided as to whether the focus on a strong economy, jobs and growth resonated with voters (38% agreed and 28% disagreed with this statement);
- Two-thirds of SMEs (66%) felt the Coalition needed to do more for the average working Australian.
Dynamic Business had the opportunity to speak with Tim Reed, who provided insight into the survey findings, while touching on the recent decision to remove the small business minister form the cabinet.
DB: Why are so few business owners confident the government’s SME policies will come to fruition?
TR: “SMEs appear to be waiting to see how the government can implement policies that work for the sector. A quarter believe that they will be able to see these critical policies become legislation, but over 40% are not confident this will happen. Given the government has the numbers in the lower house, it is probably the fact the Labor Party has said they will oppose the increase in the definition of what is a small business, from $2m in revenue to $10m in revenue, combined with the number and diversity of cross-bench Senators which is driving the low level of confidence. I believe there is a real opportunity for the government to work with the cross bench Senators and gain support for this legislation. My own read on their comments gives me reason to believe they understand the critical nature of small businesses to our economy, and I’m therefore hopeful they will support this legislation.”
DB: Why, in the eyes of business owners, didn’t ‘Brexit’ appear to have an effect on the vote?
TR: Despite Turnbull’s focus on messages of stability during the unfolding of the Brexit result, our results suggest this didn’t impact the SME vote. I think this is likely to do with the fact that small businesses are looking for strong policies first and foremost to help them ease operational pressures. SMEs see legislation that the Government can realistically impact – such as making the $20,000 instant asset tax write-off permanent as more important to their vote than the government’s stance on global issues that they cannot necessarily control.
DB: How have SMEs reacted to the decision to remove the small business minister from the cabinet?
TR: “In my conversations with small business owners, there have been two responses to the changes in the small business portfolio. First, they are thrilled when they learn the Minister for Small Business spent a decade running his own business. They often feel the level of empathy they get from politicians is full of goodwill, but short on true experience, so they’re pleased to learn there is a true understanding. Many then don’t understand the difference between a Minister inside and outside of Cabinet. Once they do they’d prefer the Minister to be in Cabinet, but do appreciate that the last two years’ small businesses have been front and center of the government’s economic policy, so are waiting to see if this diminishes, before judging the impact of this change. We know that many SMEs were disappointed, as were we, at seeing that the small business portfolio is no longer in cabinet. We hope this unexpected choice doesn’t represent a missed opportunity for the Government to bring small businesses into the central innovation agenda.”