Drama erupts at COSBOA with chairman resigning and accounts still not signed off

The Council of Small Business of Australia is in turmoil after its annual general meeting last week, with Ken Phillips resigning as chair after the council’s accounts were unable to be signed off.

COSBOA issued a media release on Friday stating that Phillips, who is the executive director of Independent Contractors of Australia, had stood down from the position of chair of COSBOA and had been succeeded by Amanda Lynch, the chief executive of the Real Estate Institute of Australia.

Following a lengthy AGM which went for over two hours, COSBOA’s annual accounts have still not been signed off as they have not been audited.

Peter Strong, executive director of COSBOA, told SmartCompany he was unable to talk about what prompted Phillips’ resignation following the meeting.

Strong says the AGM which was “probably one of our best attended AGMs in a long time” will be held over until February.

“It has been held over as there are a couple of questions about the accounts, not anything concerning, it is more about process,” Strong says.

Strong says the “wrong impression” has been given about COSBOA following the AGM.

“When you look at the secondee we have coming in, the number of new members we have, there is certainly no disarray. If anything it shows we have the momentum and we are working with it”, he says.

COSBOA now has a secondee from the National Australia Bank, Janett Egbe, who is assisting the council in policy areas particularly around finances and the processes of advocacy.

Strong says there is no conflict of interest having a secondee from a bank advising on policy at COSBOA.

“It is something we considered, and NAB has made it very clear that this should in no way stop COSBOA criticising banks, they don’t want that to stop,” he says.

“We don’t attack the banks as much as we did because we are in great dialogue with all of them.”

Strong says the secondment is a “win” for NAB, as when Egbe returns to the bank she will have a much deeper understanding of how policy works.

Lynch, the newly appointed chair of COSBOA, told SmartCompany she will be working hard to represent Australia’s 2.7 million small businesses, particularly looking at the compliance and red tape burden on small businesses.

Lynch says COSBOA’s accounting issues will be resolved next year.

“We have got additional time to do that, the AGM has been deferred for a few weeks and we have undertaken to have it sorted out before February.”

SmartCompany contacted Phillips but no response was available before publication.



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