Strong voice for small business in South Australia

17/09/2012

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Minister for Small Business Tom Koutsantonis said today South Australia's Office for the Small Business Commissioner is already making significant strides in championing the rights of business owners.

In officially opening the Commissioner's city office in Grenfell Street, Mr Koutsantonis said more than 1750 enquiries and 200 disputes have been lodged by small businesses since its doors opened in March.

"What's even more satisfying is that 123 of those disputes are now closed, with more than 85 percent having been resolved successfully," Mr Koutsantonis said.

"The value of these successfully resolved disputes is now nearing $25 million - and the additional savings of legal costs for these small businesses cannot be underestimated.

"I congratulate Small Business Commissioner Mike Sinkunas and his staff on making such significant progress in such a short time.

"The number of queries and disputes handled in the past six months clearly demonstrate the need for such a low-cost option for dispute resolution in South Australia."

Mr Koutsantonis said an analysis of the case load handled already shows the proportion of issues comprised:

  • 27% in Retail and Commercial Leasing
  • 18% related to franchising
  • 5% related to farming
  • 4% business to local government
  • 6% business to state government, and;
  • 40% general business to business disputes.

"These initial results strongly reinforce that the Liberal Party was wrong to oppose the creation of the Office of Small Business Commissioner," Mr Koutsantonis said.

"The Liberal Party was wrong to ignore the plight of franchisees and tenants and instead stand
unquestioningly behind the franchisors and the big landlords.

"For too long small businesses, franchisees and tenants have felt powerless when dealing with unfair practices of franchisors, larger businesses or landlords.

"Establishing a Small Business Commissioner has given them a voice, a champion to help them through tough times, disputes and compliance issues.

"Legislation to introduce the Commissioner has been a game-changer allowing South Australia to lead the nation in terms of our interactions with and advocacy for small businesses.

"While the Office is now officially open, it is not too late for the Liberal Opposition to change its
mind and throw its support behind the Small Business Commissioner."

Mr Koutsantonis said the Office for the Small Business Commissioner is close to finalising the
development of its first industry code - for farming. This work is being overseen by the Deputy Commissioner, Frank Zumbo.

"This will be the first in a series of codes developed to create a regulatory landscape that can resolve disputes without resorting to costly court action," Mr Koutsantonis said.

"These codes will also establish a benchmark for equality in business-to-business relationships and transactions in this State.

"I look forward to the Office for the Small Business Commissioner building on its strong initial
performance and continuing to deliver better conditions and sustained success for the state's small business operators."

The new Office for the Small Business Commissioner is located at Level 14, 19 Grenfell Street, Adelaide and incorporates state of the art dispute resolution facilities.

More information can be found online at: www.sasbc.sa.gov.au