An Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI) survey released yesterday points yet again to the urgent need for the NSW Labor Government to come to the aid of small business, Shadow Minister for Small Business, Don Page said today.

“The survey highlighted the growing wage and non-wage labour costs as the area of most concern for small businesses,” Mr Page said.

The survey identified non-wage costs as including workers’ compensation, payroll tax, training and fringe benefits.

“This is further evidence of the need for the NSW Labor Government to heed the Coalition calls for a 15% cut to payroll tax and major reduction of red tape,” he said.

The ACCI stated that growing labour costs ‘are still growing which maintains significant pressure on small business profitability and viability’.

The ACCI and the NSW Coalition are calling for a reduction in compliance costs and the red tape burden on small business.

The survey showed that small business conditions had declined further in the March quarter, to the lowest levels since the survey began in December 1996. The index for the March quarter fell to 33.1, almost 20 points below its five-year average of 52.2.

“The NSW Labor Government continues to show its inexperience and incompetence in failing to do anything to help improve small business conditions in NSW,” Mr Page said.

“NSW has the second highest unemployment in Australia, behind Tasmania. Support for NSW small businesses will help to protect jobs.

“The economic indicators and survey results have been foretelling the situation facing small business in NSW for an extended period of time. Yet this out-of-touch NSW Labor Government have sat on their hands and done nothing to come to the aide of the engine room of the NSW economy.”

Mr Page also criticised the government over electricity costs.
“At a time when NSW small businesses are struggling under the burden of an historically low economy, the NSW Labor Government have failed them again by increasing electricity costs,” Mr Page said.

“Small businesses cannot afford these price hikes in the current economic climate.

“The NSW Labor Government’s decision to implement IPART’s recommendation of a 20% increase will cripple many small businesses, especially in regional and rural areas.”

A KPMG report last year showed that regional businesses are paying up to 51% and up to $100,000 more than their city counterparts for their electricity costs.

“An increase of this magnitude to business running costs will be the straw that breaks the camel’s back for many small businesses,” Mr Page said.

“I condemn this incompetent State Labor Government for increasing electricity costs to NSW businesses and families.”