Date posted: January 28, 2016

We’ve had some great successes in our advocacy work. We now have good lines of access for our members to the new Small Business Minister (Kelly O’Dwyer), the ATO, ASIC, ACCC, the Fair Work Ombudsman, and the Small Business Commissioners nationally and in each state. We have taken member issues through to the relevant body on a number of recent occasions; for example talking to the Federal Government about new payment rates in the transport industry that have had the (unintended) effect of disadvantaging family businesses; and investigating insolvency provisions for an SA member.

I would be happy to discuss any matters you may have in the ‘family’ space that you would like brought to any government’s attention.

The Office of the Australian Small Business Commissioner (ASBC) announced on Tuesday 2 February their official transformation into the Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman with Small Business Minister Kelly O’Dwyer appointing Kate Carnell as Australia’s first in the role. This is one of the first examples in the world where ‘Family Enterprise’ has been used in such a title, emphasising an important change in focus.

We have a great relationship with Dr Patrick McCormack (he attended FBA’s National Conference) and we are providing material for the ASBC’s newsletter and blog. There have been a number of consultations around the legislation for the new role. The Deputy Australian Small Business Commissioner Craig Latham requested a discussion with FBA in NSW, and this discussion was attended by Mary Barrett, Craig Bulmer, Philip Pryor and the NSW State Manager. He has also been a frequent visitor to FBA in Victoria. 

We have been invited to a seminar at the Australian Taxpayers Association, to present our members’ views to government. 

FBA is now represented on the Board of Taxation Review of Taxation Impediments for Small Business, on the ATO’s Private Groups Stakeholder Group and Small Business Group, and I have presented at the ATO’s senior manager conference. The ATO asked us to seek members’ views on Superannuation Guarantee Levy compliance and we were able to pull together a very comprehensive response.

We have also been appointed to the Australian Digital Business Council, which has a particular focus on e invoicing. We have met with the Fair Work Ombudsman, and are to establish a partnership with them. The ACCC pursued an advertising ‘scam’ on our behalf and we were able to get the payment dropped. They have advised that our work lead them to pursue other irregular practices targetting small business.

I have also attended lunches with Jacqui Lambie and Bill Shorten, at the invitation of Kate Carnell, CEO of ACCI.

We have recently been involved with two funding submissions. The first was for some funding in WA to deliver education to the farming community. This grant was organised through one of our WA advisers and was not successful on this occasion. We have also been asked to alert our agrifood business members to a business matching event with the Bank of China being auspiced by ACCI; this work is ongoing.

There is a new Small Business Minister in Victoria, and I have met his adviser and the Minister. Our new State Manager knows the minister for Small Business in Victoria, Philip Dalidakis, and will meet him in the near future. The Victoria Small Business Director position has been filled (by Kristyn Thomson who commences in late January) following the retirement of Roger Arwas. We look forward to meeting with Acting Director Barbara Cullen from Small Business Victoria to discuss our ongoing relationship and the renewal of their sponsorship.

We have been fortunate in securing two representative spots on the Victorian Small Business Council: Graham Henderson, and Angela Ciliberto from our Victorian membership.

In South Australia, the Hall of Fame Gala dinner in Adelaide on 18 November was attended by Annabel Digance (Member for Elder) representing the Treasurer, and the Minister for Small Business Hon Tom Koutsantonis. Vickie Chapman (Deputy Leader of the Opposition) also attended. Both women have a background in family business.

In Queensland there has recently been a cabinet reshuffle. The Small Business Minister (latterly Kate Jones), is now Leeane Ennoch. In Western Australia, a meeting has been held with the Small Business Development Corporation – Caragh Waller, Manager Business Information and Martin Hasselbacher, Programs and the Director, Policy and Advocacy. A meeting has been requested with the Minister for Small Business, Joe Francis MLA.

In NSW, Craig Laundy, Federal Member for the seat of Reid and a family business owner, was the guest speaker at the Hall of Fame dinner. Candace Barron, Director of Dispute Resolution, Office of Small Business Commissioner also attended.

The NSW State Manager contributed to a Stakeholders Roundtable with the NSW Minister for Small Business and the Small Business Commissioner, and has been invited to ‘meet & greet’ with the Small Business Commissioner.

Robin Buckham
Family Business Australia