New Ombudsman service for small business

The federal government today announced the establishment of an Ombudsman for small business, providing advice and support to SME operators.

The federal government today announced the establishment of an Ombudsman for small business, providing advice and support to SME operators.

In announcing the launch of the Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman, Minister for Small Business and Assistant Treasurer, Kelly O’Dwyer, said the service will be an independent advocate for the small business sector.

“The Government acknowledges small businesses make a substantial contribution to Australia's economy with over two million small businesses generating around a third of economic output,” she said in a statement.

Taking up the post as Ombudsman from 11 March is Anne Katherine (Kate) Carnell AO. Ms Carnell – a pharmacist by trade – knows first-hand the challenges faced by SMEs, having run her own business for 15 years, before becoming ACT Chief Minister.

She is a former CEO of Beyond Blue, the Australian Food and Grocery Council and the Australian General Practice Network, and was the first female to become national vice-president of the Pharmacy Guild of Australia.

More recently, Ms Carnell has been CEO of the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI) since 2014.

My Business sought comment from Ms Carnell on the new service and her appointment to the role, but has not received a response.

Peter Strong, CEO of the Council of Small Business Australia (COSBOA), welcomed the government’s move, adding that it has been a long time coming.

“COSBOA has been calling for an Ombudsman for our sector since 1977 when our association was first formed by concerned small business supporters,” Mr Strong said.

He was also enthusiastic in the appointment of Ms Carnell as the service’s first Ombudsman, calling her a “great selection”.

“Ms Carnell has experience with politics as an ex-Chief Minister of the ACT and has run and grown her own small business. She also has deep experience with COAG processes, mental health through her role as CEO of Beyond Blue as well as various industry associations," Mr Strong said.

"This is a great decision and only 39 years in the making.”

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