The Australian Government’s introduction of an Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman is good news for Australian family farms, the majority of which are also small businesses.
Small Australian businesses will soon have, in the Ombudsman, a new advocate at the federal level to better inform policy development and dispute resolution.
Minister for Agriculture, Barnaby Joyce, said expanding the powers of the Australian Small Business Commissioner to become a Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman is one way the government is ensuring the development of farm-friendly federal laws and regulations.
The government has now released an exposure draft of legislation establishing the Ombudsman for public consultation.
The draft legislation outlines the Ombudsman’s functions and powers as a commonwealth-wide advocate for small business and family enterprises.
The Ombudsman has an advocacy function and an assistance function.
Under the advocacy function, the Ombudsman:
- Undertakes research and inquiries into legislation, policies and practices affecting small businesses and family enterprises
- Reports and gives advice to the Minister on those matters
- Contributes to inquiries by others into those matters
- Contributes to developing national strategies on those matters
- Reviews proposals relating to those matters and advises the Minister on them
- Promotes best practice in dealing with small businesses and family enterprises
Under the assistance function, the Ombudsman:
- Responds to requests for assistance by an operator of a small business or family enterprise
The Ombudsman will be given real powers to deliver broader benefits for small businesses and to ensure that disputes brought forward are resolved in accordance with the facts.
Interested parties are invited to comment on the exposure draft legislation. The closing date for submissions is Tuesday 7 April 2015.