SMEs reveal top initiatives that would turn their vote this election

26 Mar 2013

Dissatisfaction with Federal Government drops from record high, but rises among start-ups

MYOB today released new research in the wake of the Federal Government’s appointment of the fifth Minister for Small Business since 2010. The study reveals more than half of Australia’s small to medium business operators (SMEs) are dissatisfied with the government’s support for helping businesses like theirs succeed.

Dissatisfaction has dropped from the record-high found in the previous study, completed in May 2012. However, satisfaction has also dropped. As this election draws closer, only one in seven are satisfied.

The March 2013 MYOB Business Monitor reports findings from the latest round of an ongoing national study that Australia’s largest accounting software provider has commissioned to Colmar Brunton since 2004. Of 1,005 respondents, 14% were satisfied with government support. This was down on 17% in July 2012.

The previous study revealed dissatisfaction was at its highest level recorded since the research began, at 57%. The latest study found 54% were dissatisfied while 32% were neither satisfied nor dissatisfied, the latter measure having risen from 25% in the previous study.

MYOB CEO Tim Reed says, “There’s a likely relationship between the slight fall in SMEs’ dissatisfaction with the Federal Government and their increasing confidence in the domestic economy. Our latest research found 25% expected the economy to improve within 12 months, a welcome rise on that reported in the July 2012 report.

“In addition, the business outlook is healthier. 72% expected increased or stable revenue in the next year, whereas only 58% reported that actually happening in the year just past. This indicates the tide is turning for Australia’s economic engine."

“However, one in two SMEs were dissatisfied with government support and a growing proportion indifferent. These businesses are the bedrock of our GDP health, so to give them a voice MYOB explored the initiatives and policies that will turn their vote at election time. This revealed telling messages for government.”

 Election votes up for grabs

Making business life easier by reducing paperwork burden, abolishing the carbon tax and investing further in infrastructure were among the top initiatives that would turn SME election votes towards the proposing party.

Of 15 suggested policies and initiatives business operators were asked to give this opinion on, the top 10 were:

  • Policies that significantly simplify the GST/BAS reporting process – 65%
  • The abolition of the carbon tax – 63%
  • More Federal Government investment in transport infrastructure in our major states and cities – 61%
  • A reduction in payroll tax – 57%
  • Increased Federal Government funding for skills, training and apprenticeship programs – 57%
  • Increased Government funding for innovation, research and development by Australian businesses – 53%
  • Waiving any penalty interest charges on late tax payments for start-up businesses in their first two years of operation – 53%
  • Providing free Government-funded training to all small businesses on how to use the internet to enhance and grow their business – 51%
  • The creation of a single flat tax for personal tax and company tax – 49%
  • Further cutting Government expenditure to return to surplus faster – 42%

Mr Reed says, “Independent business owners and managers continue to call for tax reform, deregulation and the reduction of red tape. The significant level of paperwork and compliance required by the government is a common pain point, hence Victoria recently appointing its own red tape commissioner. Perhaps this should be expanded to a national posting. More work must be done to help SMEs simplify their regulatory commitments.

“GST and BAS simplification tops the list of initiatives that could turn an election on its head, closely followed by the abolishment of the carbon tax. With fuel prices noted by SMEs as their top pressure point, it’s no wonder 63% said they would vote for the party that proposed more investment in city transport infrastructure. The Federal Government has plenty of fodder for policy consideration in the run up to the election this year.”

Primary industry, start-ups & Queenslanders the most dissatisfied of their category

Respondents in the agribusiness, forestry and fishing sector were the industry group that was most dissatisfied with Federal Government support (66%), then those in finance and insurance (62%) and transport, postal and warehousing (56%). Interestingly, those in finance and insurance were most likely to see a revenue rise in the past year (29%), while the transport, postal and warehousing sector was most likely to see steady revenue (49%).

Only 7% of agribusiness, forestry and fishing operator reported being satisfied. This could be linked to their revenue performance - 5% had an increase in revenue in the past year. Business, professional and property sector operators and those in the manufacturing and wholesale sector were the most satisfied, at 18%. This is despite the latter group being the most likely to experience a revenue fall last year, at 52%.

When comparing results by length of time in business, more than half of the start-ups were dissatisfied with government support (51%), a significant rise from 39% in July. In that prior report, start-ups were the most satisfied, at 33%. This is now 13%. However, operators in established businesses were the most dissatisfied (61%) and those in establishing businesses were the most satisfied (18%).

Nearly three fifths of Queenslanders were dissatisfied with the Federal Government’s support in helping small businesses like theirs succeed – the highest proportion of any state. Operators in New South Wales were the most satisfied while Western Australians were most likely to neither be satisfied or dissatisfied.

Total dissatisfied 54% 53% 53% 58% 50% 48%
Total satisfied 14% 19% 11% 10% 14% 13%
Neither satisfied nor dissatisfied 32% 28% 34% 31% 35% 37%
Don't know 1% 0% 2% 0% 0% 3%

*Note: TAS, NT and ACT were excluded from the above table (though were in the national figures), as their sample size was too small.

State Government dissatisfaction drops

More than two fifths of those surveyed (43%) were dissatisfied with their State Government’s efforts to make things better for their business in the last six months. However, this was a drop on 49% in July 2012 and well behind the peak dissatisfaction of 63% recorded in June 2008. Further, 17% were satisfied with their State Government support, compared to 16% in the prior MYOB Business Monitor. 39% were indifferent.

Total dissatisfied 43% 45% 44% 35% 65% 31%
Total satisfied 17% 20% 13% 20% 7% 19%
Neither satisfied nor dissatisfied 39% 35% 42% 45% 28% 47%
Don't know 1% 1% 1% 0% 0% 3%

South Australian business operators were the most dissatisfied, well ahead of other mainland states. In July, Queensland operators were the most dissatisfied (56%), but now tied first as most satisfied. Western Australians were the most indifferent.

For MYOB information, research results, business tips, discussions, customer service and more visit the MYOB Business Monitor webpage, The Pulse blog, MYOB Twitter, MYOB Facebook, or MYOB YouTube.


For further statistics, comment or other information please contact:

Kristy Sheppard

MYOB Public Relations & Corporate Affairs Manager

02 9089 9068 / M: 0407 450 860 /

About MYOB

Established in 1991, MYOB is Australia's largest business management solutions provider. It makes life easier for approx. 1.2 million businesses across Australia and New Zealand, by simplifying accounting, payroll, tax, practice management, CRM, websites, job costing, inventory and more. MYOB provides ongoing support via many client service channels including a network of over 40,000 accountants, bookkeepers and other consultants. It is committed to ongoing innovation, particularly in cloud computing solutions, and now spends more than AU$30 million annually on research and development. In 2013, MYOB expanded its offerings with the acquisition of accounting solutions provider BankLink. For more information, visit