Five years after plans to form a Small Business Ombudsman were announced during the 2010 federal election, the government has released its draft legislation this month on March 11.

Titled the Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman, it will replace the current Australian Small Business Commissioner.

Importantly, this new ombudsman is committed to helping SMEs and advocating for their rights in government.

Several strategies have been developed to enforce this.

Five ways this new ombudsman helps SMEs 

  1. Drawing on legislation from states across the commonwealth of Australia, the ombudsman will operate on a nation-wide level to advocate for SMEs. This extensive level of support throughout the country will be a valuable asset for growing businesses.
  2. If SMEs face disputes, the ombudsman will act as a concierge to help them find the best agencies to resolve their issue. Moreover, it will also provide its own dispute resolution channels. This is particularly beneficial as previously SMEs would have had to turn to the Fair Work Ombudsman for assistance, whereas this new ombudsman is specialised and focused on the needs of SMEs.
  3. The ombudsman can investigate several areas useful for SMEs, including but not limited to fair trading provisions, codes of conduct, and a regulator’s actions and behaviour. To keep matters transparent, it can also investigate if government agency complaint systems are working properly.
  4. Every quarter, it will conduct research on laws or policies which are negatively impacting SMEs. This research will be presented to the Small Business Minister.
  5. Perhaps the best news of all, the ombudsman is devoted to lobbying for and contributing to laws and regulations which enhance and improve conditions for SMEs throughout the commonwealth.

In conjunction with seeking sound legal advice when faced with disputes or other important business matters, SMEs can make use of this new ombudsman to manage their business.

The government is now seeking public consultation on the draft legislation and feedback is invited before April 7.