Respondents said their expectations for their own business' prospects are falling and they are pessimistic about the prospects for broader economic growth and the general investment climate.
Kate Carnell, ACCI chief executive officer, said there is no doubt that business owners are feeling “pretty grim” after the Christmas period.
“We saw a glimmer of hope in the middle of the year with a slight upturn in conditions, but that has now been reversed. The figures on profitability are the worst we’ve seen in the 23-year history of the survey. Insufficient demand is the main constraint on investment for the second quarter in a row, which confirms that businesses are struggling.
"Generally speaking, the climate for investment is terrible at present and businesses don’t see much need to expand their capacity. At least the comparison of actual results to previous expectations for sales and profits shows recent expectations have, for some businesses, been too pessimistic, but the vast bulk are reporting that their results are the same or lower than expected."
In response, Ms Carnell has called on the government and the Reserve Bank to act now to restore business confidence.
"We need the government, and the parliament, to act to restore business confidence by fixing the Budget and undertaking productivity-enhancing structural reforms. We also call on the RBA to put rate cuts back on the table."
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