Treasurer Josh Frydenberg is trying to keep the election focus on the economy as opinion polls continue to point to a change of government, and the prospect of him losing his own seat in Melbourne to an independent.
A YouGov MRP poll of 19,000 voters across all 151 electorates commissioned by The Australian predicts Labor will win a majority 80 seats at the May 21 election and the Coalition will be reduced to 63.
“The most important issue at play here is who is better able to manage the economy,” Mr Frydenberg told ABC television on Thursday.
“Who do you trust to keep taxes low, to create more jobs and, of course, to encourage and enhance small businesses?”
Small and medium-sized businesses appear to have already made up their minds with a survey showing three-quarters of respondents predict a change of government on election day.
The survey by financial software provider MYOB found just over one-third of small- to medium-sized enterprises believe a change to Labor will have no impact on business.
MYOB’s election edition of its business monitor also revealed just over a quarter believe it will be a positive outcome for their business, while a similar number think it will have a negative impact.
Whoever comes out on top on polling day, two-thirds of the 1000 SMEs surveyed list reducing the compliance costs of running a business as their most important business-related issue.
“Specifically, post-election SMEs would like a simplified GST/BAS reporting process and a proportion of government procurement contracts allocated to smaller businesses,” MYOB’s Helen Lea says.
Just under half of the respondents said they would vote for a government that provided greater support to improve their digital capability and skills in order to “future proof” their businesses.
One in three businesses polled said they still didn’t have any kind of online presence but 43 per cent said digital tools had helped their businesses to be more productive.
“We know that once digital adoption gathers speed, the impacts are immediate and significant,” Ms Lea said.
“This is both at an individual business level and macro level, with MYOB modelling showing a potential $10.5 billion return to the economy as a result.”
Meanwhile, ahead of next week’s crucial wage and jobs figures, the Australian Bureau of Statistics will release its latest payroll jobs report on Thursday.
The data, a guide to the full labour force report, will cover the fortnight to April 16.
The Reserve Bank of Australia now expects the jobless rate to fall to 3.75 per cent by June and to 3.5 per cent in 2023.
This would be the lowest level in almost 50 years and compared with the current unemployment rate of 4 per cent.
Such expected strength in the jobs market is backed by continued brisk demand for workers.
New figures from online platform SEEK showed job advertisements rose by a further 2.9 per cent in April, marking the fourth consecutive month of record postings.
“We would traditionally expect a decline in job ad growth over the Easter period, yet this year continues to buck all trends with job ads again reaching record levels,” SEEK ANZ managing director Kendra Banks said.
The YouGov poll also predicts Mr Frydenberg could lose his seat of Kooyong seat to Independent Monique Ryan on a 47 per cent to 53 per cent split after preferences.