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Another Small Business Commissioner on the way - in NSW

The O'Farrell Government has become the fourth Australian State to move to establish a Small Business Commissioner's office.

Details are not yet clear as the Government has not announced any enabling legislation. However, the 'position vacant' has already been advertised and some close to Government believe it may not be necessary to introduce legislation; that the office may be established under Governmental departmental regulation.

It has been a slightly bumpy start for the new Liberal/National Government, with some initiatives announced and then withdrawn or significantly changed. Howevere, the Small Business Commissioner initiative appears to be based on the successful Victorian model, so this should be a positive move.

The Government’s intention with the SBC office appears to be consistent with a ‘non-interventionist’ approach – not seeking to create new opportunities to interpret the law; but rather setting up an office which is regarded as an advocate of small business in its dealings with big utilities and Government business entities.
According to the Government, the SBC is being established “… to restore confidence and protect the rights of small businesses by providing them with both a strong advocate and a simple low-cost dispute-resolution system.”

WA has moved to implement an SBC office, based on the Victorian low-cost dispute resolution model. South Australia has also announced its intention to create a similar office, but it has included in its draft proposal elements of interference with franchising regulation -- which is not included in Victoria or the WA or NSW initatives. FCA has opposed the SA move because of this proposed franchising regulatory authority overlap with the national Franchising Code of Conduct. We are awaiting a SA Government response.

Author: Steve Wright

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