PESSIMISM has set in across the business community, with a key expectations survey showing confidence fell for the third consecutive quarter last year.
The Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry's survey of more than 2000 businesses showed most were pessimistic about the future.
Continued political uncertainty in Canberra and global economic "headwinds" were weighing on business owners' minds, ACCI chief executive Kate Carnell said.
Ms Carnell said while many elements of the Abbott government's economic agenda were worthwhile, the time for "petty politicking" was over.
"The government must ensure that the community has a say but that these major upcoming reviews are not used as excuses for inaction," she said.
"If there are sensible steps the government can take now, they should take them without delay.
"Business confidence will only return once businesses see the government enacting a well-considered long-term reform agenda, with the support of the parliament, in the national interest."
While the survey showed indicators had improved over the past 12 months, all remained "in contracting territory", ACCI senior economist Scott Kompo-Harms said.
The survey follows a similar survey released Monday by the Australian Industry Group of leading CEO's, showing top business leaders were worried about a lack of demand.
That survey showed the weak demand from consumers was driving weak business confidence, with some 38% of CEOs expecting a "further deterioration in general business conditions".
However, CEOs surveyed also expected some rises in sales revenue, modest employment growth and a slow lift in investment during 2015.
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