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New SA commissioner will double red tape for national franchises

The Franchise Council of Australia (FCA) is happy to see a Small Business Commissioner (SBC) office established in South Australia (SA) but believes some of the powers it is striving for are already well catered for at the federal level.

FCA Executive Director Steve Wright says SA faces the prospect of an SBC presiding over new, different rules for franchising that no other state government has ever taken up, even after lengthy examination and debate.

“The new SBC now has the teeth which the SA MP Tom Koutsantonis said were essential for small business, but there is no need for it to take things further and change franchising rules,” Mr Wright said.

“If the Government of SA does carry out these threats, it will be doing a disservice to the $9 billion franchising industry in SA, a sector that employs about 50,000 people in SA and is a standout of business growth in the state.”

Mr Koutsantonis, speaking on radio today, said the new powers of the SBC would remove unconscionable conduct from the sector, while saying the SBC would also make mediation compulsory in franchising disputes.

“The comments of Mr Koutsantonis are interesting, as mediation is already compulsory in the franchising sector.  This is just more red tape and SA small business is already lagging behind the rest of the country. If you change franchising rules, you’ll make this worse,” Mr Wright said.

The SBC office, as in the other states, provides a quick and easy dispute resolution. “This is what the FCA has always supported. Disputes resolved quickly are in everyone’s interest.”

Mr Koutsantonis today also announced that Associate Professor Frank Zumbo, a co-author of the SA SBC Bill, would become the Deputy SBC from March 2012. Mr Zumbo immediately went on the record as saying he would be able to provide a voice for farming disputes.

“It will be interesting to see how Mr Zumbo expects to get multi-national farm equipment manufacturers to sit down with him for dispute resolution with local farmers,” Mr Wright said.


1 February 2012

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