The Weekend West, Saturday, January 07, 2017:
Business confidence in WA has risen to its highest level since early 2013 but the State’s peak business body is urging parties contesting the March State election to make sure the upward trend continues.
The latest Chamber of Commerce and Industry survey of business expectations shows employers are increasingly optimistic about the year ahead.
Fifty-six per cent of the 167 businesses surveyed last month expected economic conditions to either improve or hold steady over the coming 12 months —the sixth consecutive quarter of growth in medium-term business confidence.
The figure is made up of 21 per cent that believe conditions will improve, up from 3 per cent, and 35 per cent thinking they will remain relatively unchanged.
CCI chief economist Rick Newnham welcomed the new-year buoyancy, but said at times of high unemployment all political parties had to be committing to business-friendly policies that would allow businesses to grow and create jobs.
Payroll tax relief in particular, he said, would help small businesses grow their operations, hire more workers and stimulate the economy.
“Business creates jobs, not Governments,” Mr Newnham said.
“It is therefore vital that the future State Government implements policies that will give the business community the confidence they need to invest in WA, grow their operations and hire more workers.”
The CCI put payroll tax relief at the top of its State election wish list last month, claiming it was a handbrake on employment.
Its latest outlook report, released yesterday, forecasts that WA will continue to see modest growth in 2016-17, but Mr Newham said there were “green shoots of recovery” evident, with jobs being created in industries such as retail trade and agriculture.
“The future State Government must do everything it can to encourage this diversification and create a business-friendly environment that will attract investment and support business confidence,” he said.