Federal Minister for Small Business Bruce Billson has announced a new $6 million initiative that will see the Government transform the Australian Small Business Commissioner into a Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman.
The key responsibilities of the Ombudsman will include:
- acting as a concierge for dispute resolution;
- Commonwealth-wide advocacy for small businesses and family enterprises;
- contribute to the development of small business friendly Commonwealth laws and regulations; and
- be a single entry-point agency through which Commonwealth assistance and information regarding small business can be accessed.
The minister has released a discussion paper which is seeking input from the business community as to the nature and scope of the four key responsibilities of the Ombudsman role, and how the office can best deliver benefits to small businesses.
There are two ways to contribute in writing – by providing a brief comment on the Treasury website or by providing a more detailed written submission. For more information on submitting feedback click here.
The Treasury intends to publish a summary document of the consultation findings in mid-2014, with the additional consultation on draft legislation for the Ombudsman to take place later in 2014.
The Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry is one body to welcome the announcement. ACCI Chief Operating Officer, John Osborn, said “the absence of a small business Ombudsman with teeth has been a frustration to small business people for a long time.”
“Small Business is particularly happy to see the government’s plan to give the Ombudsman stronger powers to help resolve disputes, and a capacity to shape policy at the Commonwealth level while fighting red-tape,” Mr Osborn added.