Highly respected former Council of Small Business of Australia chairman Peter Judkins has passed away, with many in the small business community mourning the loss of one of its most passionate and tireless advocates.
Judkins first emerged as a business advocate during the 1970s in a position with the Metal Trades Industry Association, before becoming the chairman of COSBOA.
As COSBOA chairman during the 1980s and early 1990s, Judkins was a passionate advocate for the small business community. During that time, he lobbied the Hawke and Keating governments for a number of key reforms, including strengthening the Trade Practices Act and improving communications between government and businesses.
This lobbying led to the Beddall Report into small business in 1990, which was the first government inquiry to specifically examine the impact federal government policy has on small businesses in Australia.
Judkins also lobbied all major parties for the creation of a “small business institute” ahead of the 1990 election, a vision that came to fruition with the creation of the office of Small Business Commissioner in 2012.
Aside from his role with COSBOA, Judkins served for nearly 20 years as the chief executive of the Lottery Agents Association of Victoria, an office he helped to establish and held until 2012, as well as the executive director of the National Independent Retailers Association.
He was also an executive officer for the Furnishers Society of Victoria (FSV), the Convenience and Mixed Business Association (CAMBA), Victorian Employers’ Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VECCI) and the Australian Driver Trainers Association.
In an official statement on the COSBOA website, former chief executive Rob Bastion remembered Judkins as “one of the unsung heroes of small business”.
“Peter was always motivated by assisting the person in business and the times when he was most angry and upset was when he saw a business close and a person lose their livelihood due to the behaviour of larger businesses and the unfairness of legal process,” said Bastion.
“His belief in the person in business kept him involved long after most people would have retired.”
“His influence went far beyond the jobs he held and he was involved in many meetings with politicians and policymakers at the most senior levels,” said Bastion.
“He was always polite but also very firm during meetings and negotiations and he had the respect of those with whom he dealt. People always knew what Peter thought and the reasons behind his beliefs.”
COSBOA executive director Peter Strong described Judkins as a rock for the small business community.
“He never wanted the limelight, but whenever there was a crisis, a problem or a policy issue, he was there,” Strong told SmartCompany.
“He never lost sight of what the real issues were and made sure we stayed on focus.”
“His great strength was in administration. When he drafted a document, he knew to dot the ‘I’ and cross the ‘T’, and that helped keep a lot of organisations out of trouble.”
Judkins passed away peacefully last week, following complications with an ongoing illness.
He is survived by Margaret, his wife of 49 years, as well as his children Andrew and Craig and grandchildren Matthew, Anthony, Nicholas and Charlotte.