Search starts for Small Business Commissioner

The Federal Government intends to expand the Small Business Advisory Council, says the council’s deputy chair Peter Strong, to assist in its search for the first Australian Small Business Commissioner.


As part of the 2012 federal budget, the government will spend $8.3 million over four years to establish an Australian Small Business Commissioner.


According to the government, the commissioner will “represent and advocate small business interests to the government”.


In its search for the commissioner, who will be appointed in the second half of the year, the government plans to add more members to the Small Business Advisory Council.


Deputy chair Peter Strong, who is also the executive director of the Council of Small Business of Australia, says the council currently has about eight members.


“They’re reviewing it, which is great. The more advice the public sector gets from the small business sector, the better the policies will be,” Strong says.


Strong says the government will be advertising for the commissioner role, but is remaining tight-lipped on potential candidates, including his own intentions to apply for the job.


“Michael Shaper’s name has come up. Mine did and a few others… I really don’t know [if I would apply for the position]. When it comes up, I’ll have a look at it,” he says.


“The commissioner needs to have teeth, needs to be independent and needs to have legislation behind the position.”


“The person would start by the 1st of January [2013], but it wouldn’t surprise me if they bring that person on a bit early to get the process going.”


According to the government, the new commissioner will:

  • Provide small businesses with a new voice to highlight their issues to the government.
  • Provide a one-stop-shop for small business services and information.
  • Ensure the interests of small business remain at the forefront of policymaking.

The commissioner will also work with Small Business Minister Brendan O’Connor to ensure government agencies consider the needs of small businesses, including reducing red tape.


“The commissioner will report directly to the minister, who will liaise directly with his Cabinet colleagues about issues,” O’Connor said in a joint statement with Prime Minister Julia Gillard.


“The commissioner will also be able to take up individual cases with relevant government agencies.”


The commissioner’s office will also work with state and territory small business commissioners in order to minimise duplications across jurisdictions.


“They will also work to simplify advice for small business, including in dispute resolution, making it more readily available online and via hotline,” Gillard and O’Connor said.


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