5 Key Business Issues to Address a Political Vacuum

Wednesday 18 October, 2017 | By: James Flaherty

According to the latest CCIQ/ReachTEL polling the next state election will be fought on five key battlegrounds, battlegrounds which could lead to significant casualties for the major parties in Queensland.

CCIQ’s General Manager of Advocacy, Kate Whittle, outlined the research “At CCIQ we continually engage with small and medium businesses to understand the issues that impact their operation. Given the ever-present state election speculation, we’ve taken the opportunity to undertake our first piece of research to determine what small businesses are saying will be the key election issues.

“These are the 5 key issues that CCIQ will place at the centre of our election campaign, as we aim to gain commitments from each party to develop and implement policies that will ensure Queensland is a state in which small and medium businesses can thrive.

“We’ve also asked businesses what they think of the performance of the state government, opposition and how they intend to vote if an election were held. The results show that there are real concerns among small businesses regarding the current political landscape.”

Download the results

The Business Battlegrounds

“Through extensive consultation with our members and the wider business community there are 5 things that must be done to stimulate growth, and this applies from Cooktown to Currumbin and from Rockhampton to Mt Isa.”

Business want to see all sides of politics commit to:

  • Reducing electricity prices;
  • Lifting the payroll tax exemption threshold;
  • Increasing regional infrastructure investment;
  • Improving workforce skills and development programs throughout Queensland’s regions; and
  • Promoting small business growth.

“What I can tell you from talking with small businesses every single day, is that Queensland is a very challenging environment to do business in.

“Small business needs to feel confident to employ.

"They need immediate action on electricity prices.

“They need stability and certainty of government.

“They need a business operating environment that does not impose excessive costs on running a small business.

“They need a regulatory framework that allows them to work in their business, not spend over 6 hours a week filling out forms.

“They need tax relief, the best example being payroll tax, which is a tax on giving someone a job. 

“They need a skilled workforce and policies to prevent brain drain, particularly across Queensland’s regions.

“This is not about throwing money at the sector or providing bottomless handouts, this is about implementing appropriate policies that encourage growth, that nurture employment and create opportunities for businesses to do what they do best; power the potential of Queensland.

“CCIQ calls on all sides of politics to build on existing successful policies, and to make appropriate reforms to make Queensland the best environment in Australia in which to do business.   

“As the state election draws near we will be undertaking further polling on the policies released by all parties and seeking commitments from all sides of politics regarding the 5 key issues that matter to small and medium businesses across Queensland.”

Voting Intention

In a survey of over 1,500 small business from across Queensland, small business has highlighted its dissatisfaction with the major political parties. If an election were held today, over a third of business polled would vote for a minor party, meaning that the small business vote is going to be crucial to the outcome of the next state election.

CCIQ General Manager Advocacy of Kate Whittle said, “The small business vote is currently split in Queensland with both major parties losing a significant share of votes to Independents, One Nation and the Greens.

“It means that now, more than ever, if we want to have a stable majority government in Queensland, both major parties will need to step up to the plate and start outlining policies that will help the states 414,000 small business to grow, invest, and employ."

State Government

CCIQ commissioned Reach Tel polling has shown that Queensland’s small business community is experiencing a love hate relationship with the current government. For every policy delivered that benefits small business, two are delivered that put a handbrake on their growth.

“It’s a one step forward, two step backwards approach that is frustrating Queensland small businesses,” Ms. Whittle said.

“The State Government has done some good work during their tenure. Specifically, Queensland small businesses have welcomed the Buy Queensland Procurement Policy, aspects of the Advance Queensland program, the Back to Work Program, and WorkCover keeping insurance premiums at $1.20 with an apprenticeship waiver included. In addition, the Office of Small Business has delivered some quality grants that have seen significant take up from small businesses across Queensland.

"On the other hand, for every good policy announcement, the State Government has bowed to union pressure and repeatedly brought in policies that harm the broader business operating environment in Queensland. Policies such as the Labour Hire Licensing Act, the Industrial Relations Act, the Liquor and Other Legislation Amendment Bill, Building and Construction Legislation, and the passing of the Industrial Manslaughter laws through a broader review of Workplace Health and Safety in Queensland. Such laws have had a detrimental impact on the state’s businesses and have been little more than move to appease their backers in the union movement.

"We’ve seen factions within the government fighting for supremacy and as a result we keep seeing good work undone by bad policy.

“Allied to this there is significant anger about electricity prices. Whilst businesses know that this is a complex issue, they feel that their future productivity, profitability and ability to trade is disappearing through the gold plating of a network and the state government’s addiction to revenues that are bumping up prices.

“As a result, small business owners believe that the state government is doing a poor job and actively putting in place policies that harm small business.”

State Opposition

The State Opposition did not fare much better with the small business owners polled by ReachTEL.

“The State Opposition have faced a number of challenges over the last 3 years. The feedback we have had in this poll is that their performance can at best be described as average. It is always difficult for an Opposition to be able to perform well as they can’t implement any policies, but the feeling from business is that they have not effectively opposed detrimental changes, they have not shown leadership on key issues and have not engaged with the small business community.

“The Opposition are also suffering the consequences of the Canberra Circus and the legacy of the Newman years meaning that they are playing it very safe of the policy front. There is clear dissatisfaction with the Federal Government and its ability to pass legislation and be continually distracted by issues which should just be taken care of by those elected to do so.

“In addition, we have not seen any creative policies come out of the Opposition, and thought bubbles like ‘very fast trains’ and non-binding commitments to doubling the M1 has not cut it with business.”  

The Minor Parties

As a result, the poor performance of the major parties, minor parties are attracting a significant proportion of the vote, particularly One Nation who stand to attract over 28% of the first preference vote from small business.

“What we are seeing is small business owners looking for alternatives to a government they feel is working against them and an Opposition who are not doing their job. That alternative appears to be One Nation, who could well decide who forms the next government.

“In Queensland we are seeing what we have seen in other western nations across the world, a voting population becoming disenfranchised with the traditional parties and looking for a rhetoric driven alternative – in Queensland that is One Nation.

“Unfortunately for the wider economy, the overly protectionist and anti-immigration policies of One Nation would not help the long-term growth of Queensland.”

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