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SA's growing confidence takes a hit

Business

A leading survey of business sentiment has shown growing confidence in South Australia received a setback in September, even before the statewide blackout.

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The ANZ/Property Council Survey data for the December quarter – gathered during September before the blackout – shows a fall in South Australia’s growing confidence, but still reveals the second highest level of local business sentiment since the survey began in 2011.

Over the past 12 months, South Australia registered the highest upward shift in business sentiment of all the states, well above the national average – which flatlined.

In the latest survey, however, South Australia and Queensland were the only states to register a drop in quarterly confidence.

SA was one of three states – along with WA and Queensland – to register a drop in growth expectations over the next 12 months, below the national average.

South Australian staffing level expectations for the next 12 months also suffered a significant drop and are below the national average.

Overall, business sentiment in SA was slightly below the national average and well behind the ACT, NSW and Victoria, but ahead of Queensland and Western Australia, which languishes at the bottom of the table.

Year-on-year South Australian business confidence was still up despite the latest fall and was the second highest in the survey’s history, only surpassed by the previous quarter.

Business views of the State Government were in negative territory, although they improved in the quarter.

Property Council SA executive director Daniel Gannon said the historically high results in the September quarter showed business responding to positive news on the local defence industry, the State Government’s nuclear inquiry, changes to state taxes and commercial stamp duty, and mooted reforms to the planning system.

However, he warned the December results showed the importance of continuing to restructure policies to support business, particularly given the blackout didn’t play into the results.

“It’s just too early to gauge the statewide blackout impact on confidence levels in South Australia,” Gannon said.

“While our personal resilience was tested and we should praise the work of our first responders, there is a serious question that we need to ask ourselves: was this systemic failure in infrastructure avoidable?

“That’s not to say there weren’t costs. Boom gates failed at parking stations, food went off in fridges that failed, restaurant staff were sent home, service stations couldn’t fill-up empty tanks, police officers were redirected to staffing major intersections, and productivity left as buildings vacated.

“Not only that, South Australia became the butt of national jokes – jokes that all inferred we weren’t operating as a first class 21st century state. When a state becomes the punchline, confidence inevitably takes a hit.”

ANZ/Property Council survey: the key charts

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