This week the New South Wales Government released a consultation paper on the proposed powers for its small business commissioner. It’s outstanding.
It doesn’t extend the powers to dispute determination but gives the commissioner real “grunt” in requiring large business and government departments to engage in genuine dispute mediation.
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Further, the commissioner will have the power to initiate or be involved in litigation on behalf of small business people against large business/government.
We strongly support the proposed model. It will give small business people a considerable power balance with big business/government.
But it’s just a proposal and needs significant support to become law.
We encourage you to answer the questionnaire and we are preparing further analysis and commentary.
Summary of the proposed powers
It is proposed that the NSW small business commissioner will have powers to assist small businesses in dispute with large businesses or government bodies.
The emphasis is on mediation. That is for the commissioner to encourage and assist parties to agree on a resolution.
The commissioner will not have powers to impose a resolution. If parties ultimately cannot agree, they can go through the normal court processes.
However, the commissioner will have powers that encourage or require parties to engage in genuine discussions aimed at achieving resolution to a dispute. (From the consultation paper; “some big businesses and government bodies will only respond to matters raised with them by the commissioner if they are required to do so by the law.”)