SMEs are at the heart of political rhetoric, but is the government actually acting on this talk in ways that are meaningful for Australia’s business community?
According to figures from research firm Momentum Intelligence, the government should be worried about its current performance and look to move quickly to act.
The survey of roughly 1,500 business owners, conducted between July and September 2016, found more than half (52.7 per cent) are dissatisfied with the government’s management of the economy. Just 18.3 per cent said they were satisfied, while nearly a third (29 per cent) said they were indifferent.
“I think we do have to give whoever is in government at the time a little bit of slack. This is never going to be a figure that's going to 70, 80, 90 per cent of people saying absolutely everything is brilliant,” explains Andy Scott, head of research at Momentum Intelligence.
“The very nature of the economy, particularly the Australian economy, is that it's multiple speed. So where some people will be doing well, others naturally are going to be in a bit of pain. It's a very hard thing to manage in that regard.”
However, Andy says that is little reason for the government to be complacent about the findings.
“If you're sitting in the government and one in two small business owners thinks you are doing a bad job, that's something I think of great concern for any politician, particularly in areas and constituencies where those figures are going to be even higher, the 70 or 80 per cent of business owners who think the government are doing a bad job,” he says.
When it came to whether business owners feel the current government’s policies will stimulate growth, the numbers for our leaders came in slightly worse – 58.5 per cent responded no, and just 21 per cent said yes. The remainder said they don’t know.
In both instances, Andy says it is interesting that such a high proportion of respondents are either indifferent or don’t know how they feel about the government’s performance.
“20.4 per cent are saying, ‘You know what? I don't know’, but that's very different to saying, ‘No it’s not [doing well]’,” he explains.
“I think there's a lot of people … because of the nature of different businesses within different economies, it's quite a specific question, and if the government aren't actively doing something focused on the area of business that you're in, it's easy to sit there and think they're not doing anything to stimulate growth.”
Andy adds: “That becomes then really the emphasis on business owners themselves to take care of where they can affect change and look to drive that growth themselves.”