Sick of waiting for the NSW Government to legislate for Small Business Commissioner Yasmin King’s role and give her any legal power to do anything, Shadow Small Business Minister Adam Searle has this week launched his own Bill into Parliament.
“The Small Business Commissioner the O’Farrell Government appointed last year has no legal power to do anything,” says Searle. “The Government has repeatedly promised legislation, but has still failed to deliver.”
Today, NSW Labor gave notice of the introduction into Parliament of the Small Business Commissioner and Small Business Protection Bill 2012. It will provide measures to protect small business from unfair commercial practices and also provide a comprehensive legal framework for the role and functions of the Small Business Commissioner – which the O’Farrell Government has failed to do.
“I have consulted with small business operators across a range of industries about the challenges they face and how a Small Business Commissioner could help them in practical ways. The result of those discussions is this Bill, which is now released for further and more formal consultation with small business operators, representative organisations, and other interested persons.”
Many interested parties have spoken to Dynamic Business off the record about their concerns that King still has no legislative framework around her role and that she is too close to Small Business Minister Katrina Hodgkinson, meaning her role is not truly independent, as was intended. King caused controversy earlier this year after making the decision to scrap small business programs like Small Business September and MicroBiz Week and replace them with Small Biz Connect. Many service providers are cautious about speaking out on the record because they are still waiting on the outcome of the tender process for Small Biz Connect funding.
“Labor’s positive plan will make the Small Business Commissioner an independent body with real powers to provide practical assistance to small businesses and to promote the fair treatment of small businesses in NSW,” says Searle. “It will also give small businesses new legal protection from unjust commercial contracts.”
Several days after requesting a response, Hodgkinson gave us the following statement: “Under NSW Labor, small business confidence hit an all time low. In fact, NSW business confidence was the lowest in the nation. Labor never had any intention of implementing anything to assist small business.
“In comparison, in our first 100 days we secured a Small Business Commissioner and implemented a policy by which NSW Government agencies must now pay small businesses within 30 days on a correctly tendered invoice.
“I am doing a lot of work in the legislation space, which the Opposition has obviously got wind of, as I have been conducting discussions with various small business professionals in this space, and it is clear that unfortunately the ALP is playing politics on this issue. I will continue to do the necessary hard yards in this small business area in order to get the best possible result for the sector.”