The news that the ACT has been found to be one of the least business-friendly jurisdictions in the country by an independent study commissioned by the National Australia Bank has come at a bad time.
We are already seeing a large number of local businesses under extreme pressure as a result of the coronavirus crisis.
To be told that it was unnecessarily hard to get a business up and running even before the pandemic struck is the last thing prospective entrepreneurs want to hear.
The study, which was conducted by consultants AlphaBeta, scored each of the states and territories on 13 metrics under three broad categories - starting a business, running a business and growing a business.
Its timing was not influenced by the forthcoming ACT election in October and NAB has no skin in the local political game.
That said, it was inevitable that when the findings were released, they were going to be politicised by the local Labor and Liberal parties. This is why, disappointing though it is, the Barr government has reacted by taking pot shots at a messenger who is, in many ways, reiterating calls for initiatives to grow the ACT's private sector made by this newspaper, and groups such as the Canberra Business Chamber, for decades.
It has long been known that if this jurisdiction is to thrive and prosper it has to reduce the high level of dependence on public-sector spending and employment which dates back to when Canberra was founded as a "public service" town.
With 400,000 people, and centrally located in the most populous - and prosperous - part of the continent, the ACT is perfectly positioned to build on the strong links that already exist with government and defence.
Other assets include a steady supply of graduates from world-class universities and colleges, and a large pool of highly skilled and experienced people who have moved here to work for a range of government departments and agencies, and who would would likely welcome the chance to strike out on their own.
While good progress has been made in recent decades, with Aspen Medical a standout example of what happens when experienced and motivated people decide to put their minds to something, a lot more could - and should - be being done.
One would have hoped that instead of going on the defensive, the ACT government would have taken the criticisms implicit in the report's findings on board with a view to doing better.
It was interesting, for example, to note that despite a government spokesman saying the territory's payroll tax settings were "unabashedly pro-small business", the report found otherwise.
While the government is correct in saying that it does not levy payroll tax until a business reaches a turnover of $2 million, it is apparent that once the impost does kick in it is higher than elsewhere.
According to the NAB report: "The ACT was ranked the nation's worst in two categories: the amount paid on payroll tax for a firm of 50 people ($270,000) and the length of time (2.9 months) businesses were forced to wait for non-property related permits, such as liquor licenses".
Some in government may need to rethink their idea of the types of businesses Canberra needs.
While all employment is welcome, and a diverse range of smaller retail and service based enterprises is desirable, the ACT needs to be aiming higher than the type of mostly family-run enterprises covered by the current payroll cap.
Priority should be given to developing medium-to-large enterprises that will grow the economic base.
Property development, construction, retail sales, cafes, restaurants and haircuts can't do the heavy lifting on their own.