Filling the chair up until the end of 2020, Ms Adshead will oversee mediation for commercial leasing disputes and assistance with the implementation of the National Cabinet Mandatory Code of Conduct - SME Leasing Principles during COVID-19.
“Our thousands of small businesses are struggling due to the COVID-19 crisis, and now more than ever they need assistance,” Minister for Employment and Small Business Shannon Fentiman said.
“The establishment of the commissioner will provide a single point of contact for small businesses, handling leasing disputes [that] will result in time, money and resource savings for business owners and government.”
Recognising that small businesses need support to keep their businesses up and running and their employees in jobs, Ms Adshead said she was looking forward to her new appointment.
“We know it is likely that the COVID-19 pandemic will have long-term effects on the Queensland economy and the small-business community,” Ms Adshead said.
“My job will be to assist businesses who are navigating what can be a difficult process of accessing rent relief and, of course, I will continue to advocate for small businesses and give them a voice at the national table.
“We’ve worked quickly to create online guidance materials and information for small-business tenants and landlords, so I encourage anyone seeking assistance to check that out. We have also created a general dispute resolution resource finder to help with broader small-business issues.”
Wind in the back of mum and dad businesses
Responding to the news, the Franchising Council of Australia applauded Queensland’s efforts, opining that “the state sets out the most balanced and fair playing field for small businesses and franchisees in the country”.
FCA CEO Mary Aldred said the peak industry body had directly raised concerns with Ms Fentiman that franchisees who had their head lease held by their franchisor may not be covered under the national leasing code principles where the franchisor was above the $50,000 threshold set by JobKeeper eligibility.
This meant many franchisees would be excluded from being able to access provisions in the code.
“On behalf of thousands of small businesses, we thank Minister Fentiman and the Queensland government for being willing to listen to feedback from small business, and respond by ensuring there is a fair and level playing field set for everyone,” Ms Aldred said.
“This will give mum and dad small-business owners in Queensland every shot at making it through the current COVID-19 environment to the other side.”