BUSINESS CONFIDENCE LOWEST SINCE CLP DAYS
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