Australian private businesses are the third most optimistic in the world about the domestic economy for 2010, a global survey says.

The local firms also showed flexibility and entrepreneurial spirit in 2009, making the most of changing economic conditions, a survey by global accounting firm Grant Thornton International found.

The survey of medium to large private businesses found 79 per cent of those in Australia were optimistic about the local economy compared to only 11 per cent in 2009.

Grant Thornton Australia national head of privately held business, Tony Markwell, said Australian firms showed “entrepreneurial spirit” during 2009.

“Businesses have responded quickly and effectively to changing economic conditions by exploiting their size and flexibility as private entities,” Mr Markwell said.

“Many of our clients have held strong and ensured they have a strategic plan in place for the new marketplace conditions post recession – an approach which has considerably contributed to Australia’s positive global position and relative protection from the full impact of the GFC.”

In the survey of more than 250 firms in Australia during October, 95 per cent said they expected their revenue to at least remain steady in 2010.

Ninety per cent expected their profit to stay the same or rise and 95 per cent said they would not lay off staff during 2010.

Western Australia was the most optimistic state, with 90 per cent of firms confident about 2010.

“We can attribute this quick resurgence very much to the strength of the mining sector, which has led the charge in maintaining the country’s resilience over the last 12 months, as well as into the next twelve,” Mr Markwell said.

South Australia and Victoria were the least optimistic states, with 82 per cent of private businesses hopeful about 2010.

Mr Markwell said Australia escaped a technical recession of two consecutive quarters of the economy contracting but local businesses still had to cut costs due to the global downturn.

“More than ever, as we enter the re-building phase, sound business planning and financial management, as well as utilising government support, as vital to Australia’s continued prosperity,” he said.

Globally, only Chile with 85 per cent of private businesses optimistic and India, 84 per cent, were more upbeat than Australia about their economies in the 2010 Grant Thornton International Business Report.

The report monitors sentiment of more than 7,400 business owners from 36 different economies.

The average optimism of firms around the world rose by more than 40 per cent from a year ago, improving from a net score of minus 16 per cent to a positive 24 per cent.