Will longer government terms boost your business?

By Greg Bell

Elections aren't inherently bad for business, but they can provide a real knock to your confidence. Roy Morgan has shown that business confidence drops to particularly low levels just before federal elections, while budgets also give it a bit of a slump too.

With budgets also culpable when it comes to ill effects on confidence, recent news from the Queensland government about elections might be just what commercial leaseholders on the Gold Coast need.

One, two, three, four

In a December 4 media release, Attorney-General Yvette D'Ath announced that the government had made a decision on four-year government terms instead of these lasting for three But instead of politicians having the definitive say on the matter, you will. The decision is going to a referendum.

"We have taken a bipartisan approach to this issue seeking to work constructively to ensure the best outcome for the future of Queensland's system of government," Ms D'Ath stated.

"It's only right that the people of Queensland have their say."

Previous referendums have included topics such as daylight savings, liquor control measures and religious instruction. The only two to pass were on becoming a federation and introducing religious instruction, in 1899 and 2010 respectively. There has previously been a referendum on extending government terms from three to four years, back in 1991. It failed with 772,647 votes in favour and 811,078 against.

So clearly, it's likely to be a close decision. But what are the impacts for Gold Coast retailers going to be if it does change?

An economic boost for all

In a 4 December statement from the Chamber of Commerce and Industry Queensland (CCIQ), director of advocacy Nick Behrens suggested there would be overwhelming support from the business community in the Sunshine State. Does this extend to your Gold Coast office?

"The increase in parliamentary terms from three to fixed four years minimises the decline in consumer spend associated with an election and also enables the government sufficient time to facilitate good, long-term economic planning," Mr Behrens said.

"By lengthening the parliamentary term, we are shortening the disruption to small businesses."

This could be great news for Gold Coast retailers that usually shudder at the thought of an election and its impact on consumer confidence. People concerned about incoming taxes or changes to their ability to spend may be more hesitant to flash the credit card in the build-up to an election, thanks to the uncertainty of what tomorrow will bring.

However, an extension of parliamentary terms could be great for everyone. Mr Behrens also added that he thinks general economic growth will be good in the face of this:

"Fixed parliamentary terms are beneficial because they provide the private sector certainty about the term of government with guaranteed tenure for the implementation of policies and projects that facilitate better economic growth."

So that's where the CCIQ hopes business will stand in this referendum. But does confidence match up with a bold move forward? According to a recent business confidence survey from the National Australia Bank, Queensland remains the best performer in this metric on mainland Australia. It was also one of only two states (alongside Victoria) to record an upswing in confidence over October-November.

With a confident business outlook and the potential for greater stability in the referendum, it could be good conditions ahead. Of course, this doesn't dictate how anyone will vote, even with the CCIQ's enthusiasm in favour of four-year parliamentary terms.

No matter how you feel about the outlook, Ray White Surfers Paradise is here to help you with commercial real estate needs. Up and down the coast, we're getting people the industrial space, office space and everything in between they need.

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