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Keep up to date with the Office of the Small Business Commissioner News and other information relating to small business.
Office of the Small Business Commissioner Annual Report 2017-18
Our Annual Report, tabled in Parliament on Thursday 18 November, is a collection of our work and achievements from 1 July 2017 - 30 June 2018.
SASBC Annual Report 2017-18 (6mb, PDF)
Builders of the new Royal Adelaide Hospital – HYLC – plead guilty in proceedings issued by the Small Business Commissioner
The joint venture builders of the new Royal Adelaide Hospital, HYLC, today pleaded guilty to a charge concerning a failure to provide the South Australian Small Business Commissioner with information relating to subcontractor arrangements.
HYLC is a joint venture between Hansen Yuncken, and CPB Contractors formerly known as Leightons Contractors.
Following complaints from three subcontractors seeking the return of their retention monies, the joint venture partners were issued with a Notice in May 2017 by the Small Business Commissioner, John Chapman, requiring them to provide information under Section 12 of the Small Business Commissioner Act 2011 (Act). Subcontractors are often required to lodge substantial cash bonds or bank guarantees which head contractors claim are necessary to ensure completion of work and to cover any defects.
After some initial discussions, HYLC refused to provide information in its possession which included details of all the subcontractors working on the project. Mr Chapman subsequently issued a formal Notice under the Act which required HYLC to give the information to him.
“I was concerned that because of the ongoing delays on this project, subcontractors may have been waiting years for the return of their retentions when the delays in the project were not their fault,” Mr Chapman said.
“We were trying to work with HYLC on an outcome which would have helped the three subcontractors who came to me and, as it turns out, 157 other subcontractors who were caught up in what became totally unacceptable delays.”
“Unfortunately, alternative routes did not work out and I had little option but to issue a legal demand for the information.”
Mr Chapman then commenced criminal proceedings against HYLC for their failure to comply with the Section 12 Notice. The Act provides for a fine of up to $20,000 if found guilty.
Today in the Adelaide Magistrates Court, HYLC pleaded guilty to the offence and agreed to pay all costs incurred by the Small Business Commissioner in prosecuting the matter. Magistrate Kym Millard accepted the guilty plea and fined each of the joint venture partners $1800 plus victims of crime levy and Court costs.
The Court did not record a conviction after consideration of submissions made by each of the joint venture partners.
“Put simply the behaviour of HYLC towards the valid concerns of the three subcontractors was unacceptable,” Mr Chapman said.
The Small Business Commissioner said he expected all businesses to respond fairly and positively to his office when disputes arose.
“I look forward to working with each of the joint venture partners in a much more cooperative manner in the future on any outstanding issues involving their small business suppliers or subcontractors,” Mr Chapman said.
“I would also expect that the prime contractors in the building and construction sector take serious note in the future of any requests they receive from my office as we try and help subcontractors and suppliers get paid in a timely manner.”
Mandatory mediation in place to help SA farmers
South Australian farmers will have greater financial protection and security to grow the state’s economy with legislation to require mandatory farm debt mediation now enshrined in law.
The Governor of South Australia, His Excellency the Honourable Hieu Van Le AC, proclaimed commencement of the Farm Debt Mediation Act 2018 today, signalling authority for the Small Business Commissioner to begin work on administrating the legislation from Monday 3 September for the benefit of South Australia’s farming community.
Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development Tim Whetstone said the new legislation brought South Australia in line with other states in efforts to support farmers.
Draft Mining and Resources Industry Land Access Dispute Resolution Code
The South Australian Government has committed to assist primary producers when dealing with resource companies seeking access to their land.
It is proposed that an Industry Code of Conduct (the Code) will be prescribed to enable the Small Business Commissioner to fully and effectively implement dispute resolution processes to resolve land access issues.
Feedback on the draft Regulation is being sought from interested parties. Feedback and comments can be provided to the Small Business Commissioner via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by post at GPO Box 1264, ADELAIDE SA 5001 by Friday 28 September.
Berri Barmera Council becomes Small Business Friendly
Small Business Commissioner John Chapman will be in Berri today for the official signing ceremony for the Berri Barmera Council to join the Small Business Friendly Council Initiative.
Berri Barmera Council becomes the first Council in the Riverland and the twenty third Council in total to sign up to the Initiative, which is being coordinated through the Office of the Small Business Commissioner in partnership with the Local Government Association of South Australia. The Initiative aims to simplify interactions between councils and small businesses, and to recognise councils that are working to support their small business communities.
The Initiative was launched on 30th August 2017 in Whyalla, whose Council was the first to sign up. Since then, 16 regional councils and 7 metropolitan councils have signed up to the initiative and committed to the Charter Agreement which contains a number of principles, including a commitment to liaise with small businesses on a regular basis; prompt payment of accounts; commitment to local procurement wherever possible; and having a dispute resolution process if problems arise.
Mr Chapman congratulated Berri Barmera Council and said that the Initiative is particularly important for those regional small businesses who often have difficulty gaining access to essential resources needed to run their business.
“I am hopeful that regional small businesses will benefit from their Council signing up to this initiative as it will provide them with much-needed support and open the lines of communication.”
Mayor of Berri Barmera Council, Peter Hunt and Council CEO, André Stuyt were present for the signing of the Charter Agreement and said they look forward to working more closely with the small businesses in the region.
“Coming from a small business background myself, I can attest that the local businesses in this region have always embodied a true community spirit. The Initiatives set out in the Charter Agreement are in line with the services that the Council intends on implementing in order to better support our local small business community” Mayor Hunt said.
The number of Councils who have already committed to the initiative within its first year shows that a program such as this was needed. Participating Councils will work with the support of the Office of the Small Business Commissioner to meet the five required initiatives of the program, some of which are already in place in some councils.
“Some Councils are already achieving results in their existing programs. Participating in this initiative provides them with the recognition they deserve for the work they are already doing and also shows their small business community that they are in their corner” Mr Chapman said. “Small businesses are an integral part of the economic growth of our State and it’s the small things we can do to make it easier for small businesses that will essentially assist them in their journey.”
More information about the Small Business Friendly Council Initiative as well as a list of the participating Councils can be found here.