In a survey released by Reckon, which canvassed the opinions of 621 small business owners across Australia, 50 per cent of respondents said they were not satisfied with the government’s management of the economy.
Fifty-three per cent were not planning any new investment in the next 12 months.
The survey also revealed that 66 per cent of SME owners were not looking to hire new staff this year, with only 19 per cent forecasting an expansion of their team in 2017.
In light of the results, Reckon CEO Dan Rabie said it was “imperative that business confidence remains healthy”.
“As the engine room of the Australian economy, small businesses play a critical role in the progress of our country by creating jobs and driving growth,” Mr Rabie said.
“While the Coalition has made a commitment to deliver for small businesses now and into the future, more needs to be done to instil faith and importantly, encourage investment and expansion.”
Despite the lack of confidence in the government’s management of the economy, 77 per cent of respondents believed the Coalition was better at running the nation in comparison to the Labor Party, flagging a potential demand for fresh economic leadership.
The key areas respondents felt were most in need of government attention were – simplifying tax and GST compliance, boosting infrastructure spending and reducing overall Commonwealth debt.
“The results are consistent with what we are seeing in the market. High company tax rates and the red tape associated with GST compliance continue to be major roadblocks impeding small business growth and the main issues keeping small business owners up at night,” Mr Rabie said.
“While there’s been incremental progress since the launch of Turnbull’s National Innovation and Science Agenda, how much have we really advanced over the past year? The desired results on innovation are just not there and business owners are starting to take notice.
Mr Rabie said there was “a need for the government to focus on establishing a longer-term strategy for change, as opposed to a plan that only lasts four years”.
The key areas SME owners expected to find most challenging in 2017 were – attracting new customers, the current economic client, increasing operating costs, achieving and/or managing growth, and red tape and/or compliance burden.