With a federal election looming in 2007, nearly half of small businesses are dissatisfied with the Federal Government’s contribution to the development of small business in Australia, according to the latest MYOB Australian Small Business Survey.

Overall, 44% of small businesses perceived the Federal Government’s contribution to be poor (i.e., ‘very poor’ and ‘somewhat
poor’), a figure that has remained consistent over the past year.

As with previous surveys (43%, September and 40%, July), Interest Rates (36%) were nominated as the issue most likely to cause concern for small businesses.

“It is interesting to see that the interest rate issue the Howard Government campaigned hard on in the last election is continually being raised as a major concern among small business,” says MYOB Australia Managing Director Tim Reed.

Small businesses from the transport and storage industry (59%, up 13% from 46%, September) were most likely to rate the Federal Government’s performance negatively (i.e., ‘very poor’ and ‘somewhat poor’).

The agriculture industry has seen a continuous decrease in the proportion of small businesses with negative perceptions of the Federal Government’s contribution since July (38%, down 15% from 53%, July).

“Perhaps, the agricultural sector has appreciated the support from the Federal Government through the drought,” adds Mr Reed.

Red tape burden

In a special focus report on red tape compliance, small businesses were asked to rank the areas of red tape that are a burden on them from highest to lowest.

BAS reporting was ranked the highest ‘red tape’ burden, with over two-thirds (68%) of the respondents placing it top three (i.e., either ranked first, second or third) amongst all areas of red tape. This was followed by GST (daily transactions), with 56% of small businesses placing it top three, and Occupational Health & Safety, with 31% of the respondents placing it top three.

These results are similar to the December 2005 special report on the same area, which ranked BAS reporting highest (70%), followed by GST (59%) and Occupational Health & Safety (38%).

“These figures suggest a sharp contrast between the Federal Government’s position as the ‘government for small business’ and the perception of the Federal Government among business owners, as the same areas continue to rank among the highest ‘red tape’ burden.

“There also appears to be frustration at the different OH&S regulations in each state, in addition to the federal regulations. Perhaps we are seeing a call for a more centralised system,” adds Mr Reed.

‘Time-consuming’ was listed as the main reason for the three areas of red tape ranked most highly amongst all red tapes, namely BAS Reporting (45%), GST (daily transactions) (38%) and Occupational Health & Safety (21%).

While the majority (73%) of respondents did not think that the Federal or State Government is doing enough to reduce the red tape burden on business.

From Greg Smith of MYOB

At Thomson Hall we have introduced innovative ways of substantially reducing the time that most small business need to spend in preparation of their BAS records. Please call Stephen Hall for more details

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