A commissioner representing small business

Despite the position being filled in August 2011 by Ms Yasmin King, it was only last week that legislation creating the position of NSW Small Business Commissioner formally commenced.

The objectives for the Commissioner are defined as follows:

(a) to deal with issues concerning the small business sector in a neutral and independent manner,

(b) to provide a central point of contact for small businesses to make complaints about their commercial dealings with other businesses and about their dealings with government agencies,

(c) to encourage government agencies and larger businesses to enter into productive working relationships with small businesses,

(d) to facilitate the resolution of disputes involving small businesses through mediation and other appropriate forms of alternative dispute resolution,

(e) to facilitate and encourage the fair treatment of small businesses,

(f) to promote a fair operating environment in which small businesses can flourish,

(g) to identify and support measures to reduce the administrative burden for small businesses.

Of the many responsibilities it has, the Commissioner in particular has the responsibility to deal with complaints made by small businesses regarding their dealings with other businesses and government agencies.  The Commissioner will investigate the complaint if:

(a) the subject-matter of the complaint relates to the unfair treatment of, or an unfair practice involving, the small business, or

(b) the complaint relates to an unfair contract to which the small business is a party, or

(c) it is in the public interest to deal with the complaint.

That is, not vexatious or trivial.

Obviously, advocacy will be a strong focus of the role, however I also see the value in the educating small business owners about their rights and obligations – at the very least, the Small Business Commissioner’s website is a wealth of knowledge and assistance for small business owners.

Has anyone had any dealings yet with the Small Business Commissioner?  What was your overall experience?  Were you satisfied with your outcome?

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