On 15 March 2017, the Minister for Small Business the Hon Michael McCormack announced a review into the operation of the Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman.
The review is being led by independent expert Su McCluskey, with the support of a Secretariat provided by Nous Group.
The inaugural Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman, Ms Kate Carnell AO, commenced on 11 March 2016. The Ombudsman’s functions and powers are set out in the Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman Act 2015 (the Act).
Under the Act, the Ombudsman has an advocacy function and an assistance function:
- Advocacy for small business and family enterprise matters involves conducting research and inquiries (initiated by Ombudsman or Minister), contributing to the development of national strategies, and promoting best practice in dealing with small businesses and family enterprises.
- Assistance involves responding to requests for assistance in relation to small business and family enterprise matters, including referring requests to responsible agencies and working cooperatively with relevant agencies.
Also under the Act, the Minister for Small Business must appoint a suitably qualified and independent person to conduct a review of the Ombudsman’s assistance function at least every four years. The first of these reviews must be completed, and a report provided to the Minister by 30 June 2017. A copy of this report must be presented before each House of the Parliament within 15 sitting days of the Minister receiving it.
The reviewer has prepared a short discussion paper covering key issues to guide stakeholder feedback.
All interested parties are encouraged to make a submission by 5pm (AEST) on 12 April 2017, responding to the issues outlined in the discussion paper.