Small Business Commissioner, new laws for franchise sector

“There are 135,000 small businesses in South Australia, making up 96% of all private sector businesses in this State - and they provide an exceptionally wide range of goods and services," The Minister says. “I believe the creation of an independent statutory officer, to champion their cause, will enable small businesses to grow further - which can only be beneficial to the overall South Australian economy.”

In Business South Australia
October 1, 2010

Small Business Commissioner, new laws for franchise sector

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The South Australian Government has unveiled plans to introduce a Small Business Commissioner and new State laws to regulate the franchise sector.

Small Business Minister Tom Koutsantonis says the Small Business Commissioner will have functions including:

- Monitoring the fair treatment of small businesses in their commercial dealings with other businesses in the workplace;
- Receiving and investigating complaints by small businesses regarding unfair market practices;
- Mediating between parties; and
- Mediating retail tenancy disputes between small businesses and landlords.

“There are 135,000 small businesses in South Australia, making up 96% of all private sector businesses in this State - and they provide an exceptionally wide range of goods and services," The Minister says.

“I believe the creation of an independent statutory officer, to champion their cause, will enable small businesses to grow further - which can only be beneficial to the overall South Australian economy.”

The Minister says the legislation will be based on the successful Victorian model and the results of the Economic and Finance Committee’s 2008 Inquiry into franchising laws, which he chaired.

“These will be the most comprehensive set of franchising laws in the country, which will create much needed balance in this sector of the economy," the Minister claims.

“Central to this will be the creation of a regulatory framework that results in laws against unconscionable conduct and unfair contract terms.

“We will also require that ‘good faith’ and ‘fair dealing’ be upheld as a theme that should be adopted by both parties during all franchising negotiations.

“A franchisee is often vulnerable to unfair terms when they first sign up. By legislating to ensure parties negotiate in good faith and do not engage in unconscionable conduct, the weaker party will be significantly empowered, holding the stronger party to account at all stages of negotiation."

The Minister says Federal Member for Light, Tony Piccolo’s Private Members Bill, introduced into Parliament in December last year, was influential in developing this proposed legislation.

The draft Bill is due to be released for industry and community consultation by the end of this year, and introduced to Parliament early next year.

The Small Business Commissioner will be appointed by the Governor on the nomination of the Minister and on the recommendation of Executive Council.

http://www.in-business.com.au/news/story/2010-10-1/8298


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