Businesses split over NBN benefits
Surprised: Marcus Moufarrige assumed all companies would expect better businesses conditions from the NBN. File Photo: Peter Morris
Victorian and Tasmanian business owners are the most optimistic about the benefits of the national broadband network, while South Australian small businesses owners are the least optimistic in the country.
About 57 per cent of businesses in South Australia think the NBN will not make a positive difference to their operations, compared to 37 per cent nationally who think it would not be beneficial, according to survey conducted by Galaxy on behalf of serviced office company Servcorp.
But 57 per cent of Victoria and Tasmanian businesses said it would make a positive difference.
Servcorp's chief operating officer, Marcus Moufarrige, said he was surprised by the results because he assumed all companies would expect better businesses conditions from the NBN.
However, 51 per cent of the 441 business owners surveyed in June believed the NBN would have a positive impact. Capital city-based businesses were more optimistic than those in smaller towns, and those with a turnover exceeding $1 million annually were slightly more positive, at 54 per cent.
Businesses owned by men were more certain about broadband, with about 18 per cent of women surveyed saying they ''didn't know'' whether the NBN would make a positive impact, double the number of unsure men.
Mr Moufarrige said he was surprised by how many businesses did not think better broadband would improve their productivity.
''I was very surprised at the 51 per cent [figure]. I expected it to be 90 per cent,'' Mr Moufarrige said.
''I believe that a fibre backbone for Australia is a fantastic thing and will make Australia more productive. Is it better for the broader economy? I would have expected everybody to say yes.''
He said the pessimism could be based on concerns about how long it would take for the NBN to be rolled out, or about the project's management.
Director of Policy at BusinessSA, South Australia's chamber of commerce, Rick Cairney, said broadband was not as high a priority for small business owners as cutting red tape, simplifying tax, making it easier to employ people and building infrastructure.
''When you have these sorts of issues, I would imagine that the NBN would fall down the list of priorities,'' Mr Cairney said.
The Servcorp survey only spoke to 35 businesses in that state, potentially skewing the results. Servcorp expects to repeat the survey, titled Australian Business Growth Monitor, every six months.
Earlier this year, the Ai Group called on both sides of politics to ensure the NBN rollout so that businesses could plan around it. In April a survey by the Australian Insitute of Directors found 49 per cent of respondents agreed the NBN was a ''positive thing for Australia'', compared with 37 per cent who disagreed.