Deloitte CEO Thomas Pippos says the Australian political situation is not conducive to building sustainable transtasman relationships.
"New Zealand can easily be used as a political pawn in a wider game — not to our benefit."
When Scott Morrison became Australia's 30th Prime Minister — that country's fifth prime minister in just five years — survey respondents were only moderately concerned.
A transport firm head suggested "Australia is caught up in its own domestic politics, which is becoming more polarised like the United States."
Morrison had a stint in Wellington in the 90s as the inaugural director of the New Zealand Office of Tourism and Sport.
"He's been involved proactively in promoting New Zealand to the world," said Jacinda Ardern then. "I look forward to building a really strong relationship with him."
Ardern sidestepped a question on whether Morrison's election could result in better outcomes for New Zealanders in Australia.
Some chief executives and directors agree that Morrison's experience working here could provide an advantage over the previous leadership.
"Scott Morrison knows New Zealand better than his immediate predecessors, not least because he worked in Wellington for a couple of years.
"We should expect an improving transtasman relationship with him," says the NZ Initiative's Oliver Hartwich.
"The question is, how long will he stay in his position?"
Most respondents were less optimistic. Just 4 per cent thought the relationship between the two countries would improve, 49 per cent thought it wouldn't, and 47 per cent were uncertain.
"Who would know, what a disaster for Australian politics and reputation," said Mainfreight CEO Don Braid.
A professional services firm chair forecasts that some policies that have caused tension between New Zealand and Australia — including the rejection of the refugee resettlement offer, deportation of New Zealanders, and restrictions on welfare support for Kiwis — were not driven by former Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, and if anything, Morrison will take a tougher line.
"New Zealand is deluding itself that because Morrison worked here for a couple of years he has any willingness to soften the policy stances which are very popular in Australia.
After all Abbott's wife was born in Lower Hutt, and that did not affect his position."
Ardern has often spotlighted NZ's offer to take 150 refugees each year from Australian detention centres — but a banking boss thinks it is time we backed off the issue:
"While it cannot be condoned, Australia's policy has stopped the boats from arriving, and therefore the deaths.
"Australia has the right to confirm who it wants to welcome to its borders."
The boss of an energy firm feels the leadership change could ultimately be detrimental to New Zealand:
"The political volatility could be very damaging for Kiwi's living in Australia. It's anything goes over there right now."