Today I introduced the Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman Bills.
This fulfils a key election commitment of the Abbott Government and shows our dedication to ensuring Australia becomes the best place to start and grow a small business.
The Government undertook extensive consultations to determine the most appropriate functions, powers and scope for the Ombudsman. The feedback received during these consultations were considered and included in the final Bills. I believe the hard working women and men of Australian small business will be pleased to see that the model settled on has real power.
The Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman Bill 2015 created a Commonwealth-wide advocate for small businesses and family enterprises. Under the advocacy role, the Ombudsman will listen to small businesses and family enterprises and present their views to better inform the Government’s policy agenda. To assist this function, the Ombudsman will have information gathering powers, and inquire into a wide range of issues affecting small and family businesses. The Ombudsman will work collaboratively with other officials to identify systemic issues needing a national approach, and provide advice to the Government.
In addition the Ombudsman will be a contributor to small business friendly Commonwealth laws and regulations.
This new role works as a concierge for dispute resolution and will also provide an outsourced alternative dispute resolution service. The Ombudsman will provide an outsourced dispute resolution service, dealing with matters involving, for example, interstate and international commerce.
The Ombudsman will not duplicate the existing functions of Commonwealth, state or territory officials. Consequently the Ombudsman in the Ombudsman’s concierge role, will, where necessary, refer small businesses to existing alternative dispute resolution services.
The Consequential and Transitional Provisions Bill will allow matters to be transferred from the Commonwealth Ombudsman to the proposed Ombudsman, and will also make the transitional arrangements necessary to facilitate the proposed Ombudsman’s functioning.
This role will play an important part in reducing the red tape burden on small business and family enterprise. The Ombudsman will provide advice on proposed, and existing, legislation, regulations and practices, to ensure that red tape burdens on small businesses and family enterprises are minimised or eliminated.