BUSI­NESS con­fi­dence in the NT Gov­ern­ment has reached lev­els not seen since the dark­est days of the for­mer CLP Gov­ern­ment, ac­cord­ing to the lat­est Sen­sis Busi­ness In­dex sur­vey, al­though there are signs the Gun­ner Gov­ern­ment lift­ing the mora­to­rium on on­shore gas ex­plo­ration could pro­vide a boost.

Busi­ness sup­port for the Gun­ner Gov­ern­ment has fallen by 18 points to a net bal­ance of -8. This is the low­est score since June 2014 when it was -10 amid the lead­er­ship tur­moil of the CLP. These fig­ures are the low­est since Sen­sis started keep­ing record in 2008.

Ter­ri­tory busi­nesses are the least con­fi­dent in Aus­tralia, drop­ping 10 points among small to medium busi­nesses to be +2, or 40 points be­hind the na­tional av­er­age.

Dar­win busi­ness con­fi­dence fell 13 points from +15 to +2. Con­fi­dence in re­gional NT dropped 8 points from +10 to +2. These re­sults are by far the low­est metropoli­tan and re­gional scores recorded for the North­ern Ter­ri­tory.

Sen­sis chief ex­ec­u­tive John Al­lan said busi­nesses cited fall­ing sales and an un­favourable busi­ness en­vi­ron­ment as their big­gest con­cerns. “Their main crit­i­cism of the Ter­ri­tory Gov­ern­ment is that there is too much bu­reau­cracy fol­lowed by a lack of sup­port for ru­ral ar­eas,” he said.

SMB sup­port for Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment lifted 4 points, but the bal­ance was still neg­a­tive at -7. This was the sec­ond­low­est rat­ing recorded by any state or ter­ri­tory gov­ern­ment.

The in­dex re­flects the view of 1000 small and medium busi­nesses from across Aus­tralia.

“NT busi­nesses are find­ing it harder than any­where else in Aus­tralia to ac­cess fi­nance, re­turn­ing a net bal­ance of -20 ver­sus a na­tional av­er­age of +1,” Mr Al­lan said. “We also see that NT busi­nesses are again the most pes­simistic about the prospects for the econ­omy in one year’s time sit­ting at +2 ver­sus a +12 na­tional av­er­age.”

Cham­ber of Com­merce NT chief ex­ec­u­tive Greg Bick­nell said the de­ci­sion by the Gun­ner Gov­ern­ment to al­low the de­vel­op­ment of an on­shore gas in­dus­try would boost the Ter­ri­tory’s busi­ness con­fi­dence.

“The busi­ness com­mu­nity wel­comes the de­ci­sion pro­vid­ing cer­tainty for this in­dus­try,” Mr Bick­nell said. “The de­ci­sion ... paints a much more pos­i­tive pic­ture for the Ter­ri­tory mov­ing for­ward es­pe­cially with the in­clu­sion of De­fence and Tourism which re­ceived a boost with China flights.”

Ter­ri­tory busi­ness is brac­ing it­self for the Gun­ner Gov­ern­ment’s sec­ond Bud­get next month. This may off­set any con­fi­dence gains from the on­shore gas de­ci­sion.

The lat­est re­port into busi­ness con­fi­dence in the Ter­ri­tory Gov­ern­ment paints a grim pic­ture, al­though Cham­ber of Com­merce CEO Greg Bick­nell (in­set) pre­dicts a boost on the back of the lift­ing of the frack­ing mora­to­rium

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