Council of Small Business of Australia
Above: A toothless tiger and Federal Small Business Commissioner Mark Brennan. The Greens have lashed out at the federal government and the Coalition for blocking a bill that would give statutory “teeth” to the federal small business commissioner’s abilities to tackle issues, including tax reform and red tape. Government and opposition members of a committee looking into the role of the federal small business commissioner will advise the Senate not to pass the proposed amendment, all but consigning it to defeat. The Greens, along with independent senator Nick Xenophon, had tabled an amendment that would give the commissioner legislative powers to intervene on behalf of small businesses. The bill would’ve given the commissioner the power to receive and investigate SME complaints against government officials, monitor and investigate market practices that “may adversely impact small businesses” and demand to see relevant information. The Greens are also keen for the commissioner to lead research efforts to better understand Australian small business trends. Mark Brennan was appointed as Australia’s first federal Small Business Commissioner in October last year, adding to counterparts in each of the states. The Council of Small Business of Australia has previously called for Brennan to be given legislative powers, with then-chairman Ken Phillips saying last year: "If a small business commissioner is really going to work, it needs to have teeth, and it needs to have that dispute resolution power for small business people against large government." Senator Peter Whish-Wilson, the Greens’ small business spokesman, says that the lack of support for statutory powers is “disappointing.” “The blocking of this bill certainly looks cynical and appears to be politically driven,” he says. “The important contribution of small businesses is exactly why we believe it is important for these businesses to have a statutory office holder and agency to represent and advocate for them. “As outlined in the committee report, statutory small business commissioners currently operate in Victoria, Western Australia and South Australia. New South Wales is currently considering legislation to back up their small business commissioner. “Merely appointing a federal commissioner is not sufficient for the appropriate representation of small business, and it is easy to see why many view this role as purely political or symbolic. “Additional credibility would be brought to an office that has the ability to bring people to the table to discuss and resolve issues. “Statutory powers are essential to ensure the commissioner can represent and advocate appropriately.”
The federal government has backed down on draft legislation which proposed regulating small business credit after criticism it would make it harder for small business to get funding.
It’s only been a few weeks since Mark Brennan stepped into his role as the inaugural Australian small business commissioner, following the announcement of his appointment in October.
Small business has expressed its hesitation over the federal government's planned expansion of flexible workplace laws, saying they could threaten the viability of businesses in certain industries and place undue pressure on struggling SMEs.
A small business group wants fewer regulations but more support for home-based businesses, which are being touted as “the way to Asia”, ahead of the HomeBiz Connect program.
The Coalition has revealed a policy for small business emergency assistance, including concessional loans of up to $100,000, with a business group now hopeful the party will unveil costed policies in other areas.
The small business sector has been handed its fourth minister in two years, with former immigration minister Chris Bowen assuming the role as part of an unexpected cabinet reshuffle.
Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s surprise announcement about this year’s federal election has been welcomed by the business community for giving “certainty” to small firms.
They are a vital, but often invisible part of the Australian economy – soloists who work from home, often in a spare room, contributing innovation and wealth well away from the top end of town.
Primary school students will be taught the fundamentals of business and economics under a new move by the Gillard government, but a small business group says a more specialised program should be implemented.
Business groups have downplayed the Federal Government’s concession the budget is unlikely to return to surplus in 2012-13, with one group describing the move as “neither here nor there”.
The Opposition has accused the Federal Government of breaking “yet another promise” by failing to remedy the issue of home-based business owners’ personal addresses appearing on the National Business Names Register.
The NSW Government has introduced legislation to establish the state’s first small business commissioner as a statutory officer, more than a year after the role was created and filled.
The Council of Small Business of Australia is in turmoil after its annual general meeting last week, with Ken Phillips resigning as chair after the council's accounts were unable to be signed off.
Business groups have praised the Federal Government for the goals outlined in the Australia in the Asian Century white paper, including a vision to transform Australia’s innovation system.
Home owners may have breathed a sigh of relief this past weekend after three of the major banks passed on a rate cut last Friday, but business owners have received mixed messages on whether they'll receive any benefit.
Retrenched Queensland public servants have contributed to a renewed interest in franchising, according to Retail Food Group, which saw a 64% spike in inquiries between June and August.
Australia’s start-up sector could see a surge in numbers as disheartened employees quit their jobs in pursuit of a challenge, with a report revealing 45% of Australian workers feel overqualified for their job.
The peak small business group is calling for changes to workplace rules that would see award rates determined by the size of a business rather than the industry it is in.
Small businesses remain “shackled” by unfair dismissal laws, according to a major employer group, following yesterday’s release of a review into the Fair Work industrial relations system.