Australia’s peak small business body will soon have a new chair, with board director Matthew Addison to replace Mark McKenzie as chair of the Council of Small Business Organisations (COSBOA) at the end of June.
The changeover is part of an expected leadership transition, as McKenzie is nearing the end of his allowed time on the COSBOA board.
However, it also coincides with COSBOA chief executive Peter Strong taking a three-month hiatus, during which time he will be replaced by interim chief executive Alexi Boyd.
McKenzie, who is also the chief executive of the Australian Convenience and Petroleum Marketers Association, has served as a board member of COSBOA since 2015 and has been chair since October 2017.
The organisation’s constitution only allows directors to serve six consecutive years of service, so his term is due to end in October this year.
McKenzie will now take up the role of chairing a newly formed expert panel on industrial relations at COSBOA, and continue on the board for the first few months of Addison’s term as chair.
Addison is the executive director of the Institute of Certified Bookkeepers, which he founded in Australia, and previously ran his own accounting practice between 1993 and 2008.
He brings to the COSBOA chair position significant experience as a small business advocate, including through his involvement with the Commonwealth Business Registry Service Strategic Council, the ATO Tax Practitioners Stewardship Group and the ATO Small Business Stewardship Group. He has also been involved in the development of Single Touch Payroll and e-invoicing measures.
In a statement, Strong said Addison has a wealth of “inside knowledge and experience of small business”.
“Bookkeepers and accountants are often the first people small business owners turn to when they have a problem or need business advice — we must never underestimate the knowledge they hold,” he added.
Strong also described McKenzie’s contribution to COSBOA as “invaluable”, noting that he led the organisation during a time when it grew from one full-time staff member to seven employees, and took on six projects.
“It’s rare to meet someone like Mark McKenzie,” he said.
“He’s incredibly intelligent, knowledgeable on a seemingly infinite number of topics, absurdly articulate and hard-working. But he’s also fair, kind, and someone who listens carefully to and values the opinions of others.”
Strong thanked McKenzie for being his “trusted sidekick in the good fight for small business”, but wondered if he in fact had been McKenzie’s “sidekick”.
McKenzie said it has been an “absolute privilege” to serve as COSBOA chair and thanked the COSBOA team, including Strong, who he said he has “nothing but admiration for”.
“I am pleased to hand the baton to Matthew Addison and I am confident that he will take the organisation to the ‘next level’ in its ongoing efforts to champion the interests of small business in Australia,” he added.
Addison said his aim is to continue to advocate for “sensible and compassionate policies for small business owners” and work towards “an efficient and streamlined small business environment”.
This includes advocating for an industrial relations system that is appropriate for small business and reducing red tape regulations that work against business owners.
“Government initiatives such as Modernising Business Registers and Consumer Data Rights have great potential if they consider business efficiency,” he said.
“They also have the potential to unnecessarily create complexity for no benefit.”