The latest MYOB Business Monitor special report show considerably more business people favour National than the total of all other parties but they’re less enthusiastic about some policies:
The survey of the policy and voting preferences of over 1000 business owners from around the country found that, if the election was held today, 62% of business owners would vote National, 10% Labour and 3% Act, 2% for the Greens and 1% for the Maori Party, with 21% undecided.
Support for the Government is slightly higher among female business owners (63%), and the owners of larger and more established businesses, although the ACT Party enjoys considerable favour with the owners of medium sized businesses (20 – 199 employees), garnering 8% of the vote with this group. Labour found the strongest support among younger business owners, aged between 18 – 39 years, with 17% likely to vote for the party, 54% for National and 3% for the Maori Party – although a larger number of young business voters are undecided, at 24%.
Support for National is slightly weaker in Wellington (57%) and support for Labour slightly stronger (13%) compared with other areas in New Zealand.
The Government is most popular with business owners in the finance and insurance sector (75% National, 4% Labour, 10% Act) and the Agriculture sector (71% National, 8% Labour, 3% Maori), while Labour enjoys the most favour with business voters in the retail and hospitality sector (17% Labour, 62% National, 4% Greens) and the transport industry (11% Labour, 58% National, 2% Greens).
What on earth has Labour done to get 8% support from agricultural businesses and why would anyone in the transport industry vote Green?
The 17% support for Labour in retail and hospitality also astounds me. They generally have low margins and should have benefitted from policies which make it easier to employ staff.
MYOB general manager Julian Smith says, based on the performance of all parties over the last six months, businesses are firmly in favour of the Government being returned at the next election.
“National is the clear choice for Kiwi business, according to this survey, which looks both at policy and party preferences of New Zealand business owners,” says Julian Smith.
“However, several of the key policies likely to be in contention in the next election, may well see National lose some votes.”
The survey found 44% of business owners would vote against state asset sales, while only 27% would vote for the policy.
That surprises me too – you’d think people who ran their own businesses would appreciate the need to reduce debt and the added accountability there would be at governance level if some assets were partially floated.
Julian Smith says what businesses are looking for – from any party – is a way to cut red tape and the cost of compliance.
“The number one policy that would win support of Kiwi business owners is the simplification of provisional tax rules and processes to make it easier for businesses to meet tax obligations, which 76% would vote for,” says Julian Smith.
Other policies popular with business owners are additional tax cuts, which 63% would vote for, Government-sponsored initiatives to reward innovation and success (61% support) and the creation of a single flat personal and company tax (53% support).
“Interestingly, businesses are also focused on policies that would benefit their employees and the broader community,” says Julian Smith.
Removing GST from selected essential goods and services, such as fresh food and doctors’ visits, would be supported by 57% of the business community, with just 23% voting against. Business owners also supported Mondayising public holidays (45% vote for, 22% against), and the introduction of compulsory Kiwisaver, provided at least 50% are invested in New Zealand (41% vote for, 25% against).
How can they reconcile the desire for less red tape, lower compliance costs and simplified tax with the wish to complicate GST?
How do they think they could get more tax cuts and a single flat personal and company tax as well as a reduction in GST?
It’s often assumed that all business people support the National Party. Unfortunately in my – admittedly biased – opinion, as this survey shows they don’t.
I didn’t expect unanimous support for National and all its policies but I am surprised about the apparent confusion over policies. I’d have thought business people would have a better understanding of economics than the results indicate.