According to the ACCI Business Expectations Survey, business' expectations for their own conditions in the first quarter of 2015 also fell.
Kate Carnell, chief executive of ACCI, said uncertainty about the passage of many elements of the government’s reform agenda and headwinds from abroad continue to weigh on business owners’ minds.
“The government needs to use the upcoming Budget to give momentum to its reform efforts by explaining the need for change,” she said.
According to Ms Carnell, the government has embarked upon many worthwhile reforms, including deregulation, and improving competition policy and the financial system, but business now needs to see that concrete steps to strengthen the economy are being taken.
“Some key policy debates are still in the early stages, including debates on tax, the industrial relations system and federation. The government must ensure that the community has a say but that these major upcoming reviews are not used as excuses for inaction. If there are sensible steps the government can take now, they should take them without delay.
“Business confidence will only return once businesses see the government enacting a well-considered, long-term reform agenda, with the support of the parliament, in the national interest. The time for petty politicking is over,” Ms Carnell said.
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