Australia’s SME business owners still undecided on election

| April 24, 2019

Over the next three weeks all parties have significant work to do to convince Australia’s small and medium business owners that their policies are best to support small businesses. Just over one in three SMBs (35%) are yet to decide which party to support in the upcoming Federal election.

The findings form part of the March Quarter Sensis Business Index Reportwhich is due to be released in coming weeks. Sensis asked 1,001 small and medium business owners their voting intentions in the months running up to the election being called.

The Sensis Business Indexhas traditionally shown that the Liberal National Coalition has been the favoured party of the country’s small businesses and this is still true today. Among SMBs who have made up their minds which party to support, the Liberal National Coalition is preferred to Labor by a ratio of more than three to one – 42% to 13%. In all states and territories, industries and segments, the Coalition’s appeal is significantly higher.

Liberal National Coalition support is strongest in Western Australia (54%) and New South Wales (47%) however the infamous ‘Canberra Bubble’ seems to be impacting its support in the ACT (27%). SMB support for Labor is strongest in the NT (19%) and Victoria (16%).

The number of undecided SMB owners is highest in the two territories – 49% in the NT and 47% in the ACT. In other states, it varies from 31% in NSW and Tasmania to 42% in SA.

Parties other than the Coalition or Labor generate minimal support from Australia’s SMBs – voting intentions for an independent 4%, Greens 3%, One Nation 2%, United Australia Party 1%. Surprisingly the Greens were more popular with Queensland small business owners than One Nation or United Australia Party.  Tasmania bucks the trend with independents tying with Labor on 13%.

Both major parties have significant work to do to convince female small business owners that they are the best to support businesses into the future with female proprietors (49%) much more likely to be undecided than males (27%). Female voters are also steering clear of the minor parties.

Perhaps unsurprisingly younger proprietors (aged under 40 years – 45%) are more undecided than those aged 60 or older (24%). Support for the Liberal National Coalition is strongest amongst 41-50 year-olds (49%) and those 60 plus (44%). These groups are also the most decisive with 36% and 24% respectively undecided on their vote.

By industry, the ‘can’t say’ response was lowest in the Building and Construction sector at 25% and highest in the Communications sector at 40%. Liberal National Party support was strongest in the construction sector (55%) with Labor strongest in the health and community services small business sector (17%).