Small business support for Turnbull Government drops

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Business support for the Turnbull Government is now negative, and at the lowest level since Malcolm Turnbull took over as Prime Minister

The Sensis Business Index, which surveys small and medium businesses, for this quarter found that support for the Coalition Government is now in the negative, with the net balance dropping four points from +2 to -2.

This score is calculated by comparing the number of SMBs that feel supported by the Federal Government’s policies (14%) to the number who do not feel supported (16%).

But on the bright side, the outlook for SMBs in the health and community sector has improved more than in any other sector.

“After Malcolm Turnbull took over as Prime Minister in 2015 we saw confidence in the Government rise, with businesses telling us they were optimistic about the change,” said Sensis CEO John Allan.

“Since then the Government’s approval rating has fallen nine points and is 20 points lower than the highest score we saw under Tony Abbott, following the pro-business Federal budget of 2015. To find a lower score we need to go back to the March 2015 survey, which was taken after Tony Abbott had survived a leadership spill.

“While perceptions of the economy remain strong, less than one in seven businesses have faith in the Government’s policies, with the biggest concerns being excessive bureaucracy and red tape, as well as there being too much of a focus on the interests of big business,” he said.

The Index, which reflects the views of 1,000 small and medium businesses from across Australia, also revealed that despite a tough quarter for the Government the long term projections for the economy have improved to their best level in two and a half years.

“Perceptions of the current state of the economy fell slightly, but when we look further ahead businesses are feeling the most optimistic they have been since the carbon tax was repealed in 2014,” said Mr Allan.

The net balance score for current perceptions of the economy now sits at +2, while the expectation for the economy in a year’s time have risen to +10.

“When we look at the key indicators, sales, employment, wages and prices are all positive, while profitability has also improved, despite still recording a negative score.

“When you mix these results with the fact that business confidence remains at one of the best levels we’ve seen in the past seven years, it’s not surprising to see the long term economic sentiment improve,” said Mr Allan.

All industry sectors continued to have a positive net balance, though seven out of 10 industries went backwards this quarter.

The health and community sector bucked that trend, with the biggest rise in confidence of any sector, at 12 points. Health and community is now the second-most positive sector behind Finance and Insurance, which saw a big drop of nine points.

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