Almost 80 per cent of West Australians believe WA workers will lose out if Federal Labor continues to support the ACTU’s east coast centric proposal to force a 5 per cent minimum wage increase on small businesses.

Patterson Research Group state-wide polling of 906 West Australians, commissioned by the Chamber of Commerce and Industry WA (CCI), has revealed that 78 per cent of West Australians believe small businesses would be forced to reduce existing workers hours, reduce their number of employees or delay hiring new workers if a 5 per cent wage increase was introduced. 

This backs a recent CCI survey of WA businesses which found that 76 per cent of WA businesses expect jobs will be lost, hours cut or hiring delayed if Federal Labor proceeds with supporting the ACTU’s living wage proposal.

Last month, Opposition Leader Bill Shorten claimed that the feedback from business on his policy was just “fairy tales spun by the vested interests of big business”. It is no longer just the business community providing the feedback. The overwhelming majority of WA households agree that Federal Labor’s living wage policy would impact employment in WA.

Economic conditions in WA are completely different to those in New South Wales or Victoria. WA small businesses cannot afford these proposals put forward by Federal Labor.

More West Australians believe tax cuts for business is the best way to increase wages without job losses than any other method (57%), including 45 per cent that believe the tax cuts should be for small businesses. Just 13 per cent of West Australians believe increasing the minimum wage is the answer.

Fifty-four per cent of West Australians believe proposed forced increases to the minimum wage could cause job losses elsewhere in the WA economy and only 20 per cent support increasing the minimum wage if it costs another person their job. Seventy per cent believe businesses would be forced to increase their prices at a time when cost of living is the number one concern to West Australians.

This is precisely the worst time to increase the cost of living in WA and make it more expensive for WA’s small businesses to create jobs. WA has the second highest unemployment rate in the country, business investment is forecast to fall a further 15 per cent and there a still more people leaving WA for the east coast than are arriving. Business confidence has stopped growing and consumer confidence is down.

West Australians have been doing it tough since the mining construction downturn and so too have WA businesses. Since 2013, most WA businesses have been experiencing challenging economic conditions where operating margins have been eroded and growth constrained, with small businesses bearing the brunt of weak consumer demand and rising labour costs.

CCI’s Small Business is a Big Deal campaign – a grassroots movement supported by Chambers of Commerce and Industry Associations in every part of the country – is committed to highlighting what small business needs from the next Federal Government to grow and support the millions of Australian workers they employ.

CCI urges Federal Labor to reverse its proposal to introduce a living wage and instead stick to its commitment to supporting small business through tax relief, as backed by the majority of West Australians, to boost employment and sustained wages growth over time.