New Federal Minister for Small Business Bruce Billson has outlined his initial plans to morph the Federal Small Business Commissioner's role into the newly created position of Federal Small Business & Family Enterprise Ombudsman.
Speaking in Melbourne late last week at a meeting of state-based small business commissioners, Billson said the Federal Small Business & Family Enterprise Ombudsman will have, “real tools and teeth”.
“We want to create a single entry point for small business to access Federal small business programs and support, to contribute to making Commonwealth laws and regulations more small business friendly and as a 'concierge' for dispute resolution,” Billson said. “At the same time we don't want to double up on the good work of state-based commissioners.
“It's important state and federal jurisdictions work closely together, not only to share knowledge and learning, but to make sure we don't duplicate state services or create ‘forum shopping’ opportunities for the multiple handling of single concerns or grievances.”
Importantly, Billson suggested that Mark Brennan, Australia’s inaugural Federal Small Business Commissioner, who was appointed by the former government late last year, will be given the Federal Small Business & Family Enterprise Ombudsman role. In his tenure as Australian Small Business Commissioner, Brennan has demonstrated a genuine desire and determination to advocate for small business owners.
“I was heartened to hear the willingness of our state-based commissioners to work with the Commonwealth as we move to create an enhanced role for Mark Brennan in his federal based role,” Billson said. “It’s important we transform this role as we move to arrest the decline of small business employment. We want to see a renaissance in enterprise.”
Billson said the government will commence consultation on the development of an options paper later this year with further work to happen throughout 2014 on legislation. And he underscored the importance of the role of small business commissioners by pointing towards the pick-up in referrals and activity within the state-based commissioner offices and the ongoing high levels of small business satisfaction with these services.
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