Know your customers
Recently I attended a small business conference where one of the topics covered was the current thinking for young Australians.
While recent focus has been on Swedish climate activist 16 year old Greta Thunberg, the wave of discontent in the community over climate change action is well evident.
In the 2019 survey conducted by digital media platform, Junkee.Com, climate change was reported as the number one concern of young Australians – 84%. This is up from 57% in 2013.
My message for all small businesses is that you need to consider how you position your business in the wake of these concerns and take advantage of the opportunities this may provide to you and consider the challenges which may exist.
If you are operating in a non-climate friendly manner then you may lose customers to other businesses which have adapted their operations to lessen their environmental impact footprint.
Further you may difficulty securing staff who may not wish to work for a business they regard as a threat to their future. The choice is yours.
Retail & Commercial Lease Act 1995
A Bill to amend the Retail & Commercial Lease Act 1995 has passed the House of Assembly.
It is expected that the Bill will be debated in the Legislative Council in the coming weeks. I am assisting the Deputy Premier and Attorney-General Hon. Vickie Chapman MP during the passage of the Bill.
The amendments in the Bill aim to build on the existing protective measures for lessees under the Act by:
- Allowing leases to move in and out of the Act;
- Clarifying the application of GST:
- Establishing a formal process through the Valuer-General to review the rent threshold which currently stands at $400,000.
- Providing an option of a landlord to register a new lease which is above the current $400,000 threshold so that the lease will not be captured by the Act should the threshold increase;
- Requiring increased requirements for disclosure of information by landlords to tenants · Increasing penalties for breaches of the Act (broadly in line with CPI between 1995 and 2015) and introducing two new penalties;
- Increasing the value of a bond from up to four weeks rent to up to three months rent: · Amending the definition of a public company, and also providing protection to charity groups which may use a public company structure but are registered with the Australian Charities and Not for Profit Commission;
- Excluding overseas companies from coverage of the Act if they are registered on an international stock exchange.
A number of technical amendments are also included in the Bill. Full details can be found here.
Bonus for Employers of new apprentices and trainees
The State Government has a program to assist employers who employ a new apprentice or trainee with up to $1,000 available to cover a range of costs including:
- tools, clothing and equipment;
- car licensing, registration or driving lessons;
- police checks and other clearances; and
- medical assessments or drug tests.
Depending on who incurred the costs, payments can be made directly to an eligible apprentice or their employer. Further details can be found at: https://www.skills.sa.gov.au/business/hiring-an-apprentice/apply-equipped-for-work
Recently I, and a number of my staff, received an email supposedly from the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission which claimed that a complaint had been made against “our business” and that we had 5 days to respond. The email looked official and contained a click on link for the complaint.
Suspicions were raised and we referred the email to out IT department which confirmed the email was a scam.
Given I am well aware small businesses often do not have the same access to expert advice, we put out a post on our Facebook page to alert our followers.
The response was astounding and reinforced the benefits of keeping informed via social media channels.
The post created the highest number of likes and shares of any post we have issued, as small businesses passed on the message to their own networks.
That sent a very clear message to me that small businesses need support in this area.
As a result we have teamed up with South Australian Police to run two sessions on cybercrime – one on “Business email compromise” and the other on “Ransomware”. We've scheduled the Ransomware session for 2 October and the Business email compromise session for 26 November. You can attend personally or via webinar. Booking is essential. Click here for session details for the Ransomware event & stay tuned for details about the Business email compromise session.
Small Business Lending Declines
Bank Lending to small business has dropped a staggering 33% in the past five years.
The Council of Small Business Australia (COSBOA) has taken up this key issue of access to credit with the banks and together with the Australian Banking Association (ABA) has developed a new online tool kit to assist small businesses apply for a loan.
Research by the ABA reveals that reasons small businesses aren’t bothering to apply for a loan is that the process will be too complex, the loan won’t be approved and it will take too long.
The ABA says that banks have been consistently approving 94% of applications, so depending on the circumstances, if you need capital to expand your business or purchase equipment don’t rule out your bank as a potential partner.
Further information can be found at : www.financingyoursmallbusiness.com.au
Fairness for Small Business
It’s good to see the Federal authorities cracking down on businesses which are ripping off the system.
The days of underpaying staff and not paying the proper share of taxation need to disappear.
It is not fair on businesses which do comply with labour laws and pay their tax to have to compete with businesses which underpay staff, don’t pay superannuation and engage in the black or cash economy and under or don’t pay tax.
These same businesses often use these unfair advantages to steal business from legitimate operators through lower prices.
The Australian Tax Office has released research estimating that there is an income tax gap for the small business sector of approximately $11.1 billion.
The ATO estimates about $7 billion can be attributed to the black economy. That’s taxes which are being deliberately avoided and not paid.
That’s money which could be invested for the betterment of the economy and the community.
In the coming year, the ATO expects to visit 10,000 businesses directly to investigate business practice and behaviours.
On top of this the Fair Work Ombudsman (FWO) is also cracking down on businesses which are sliding under the radar with poor employment practices, particularly underpayment of wages.
Fair Work Ombudsman Sandra Parker recently told a small business audience that the crackdown will include enforceable undertakings and court action for those businesses which systemically underpay their staff.
The FWO provide an excellent small business helpline service to assist businesses in understanding their responsibilities as employers. Business SA and other industry associations can also provide excellent industrial relations support to their members.
While some in the business community may criticise me as an advocate for small business for supporting the harder line approach to breaches by the ATO and FWO, I won’t apologise for advocating to ensure that businesses can compete fairly and if that means some of the bad operators being prosecuted and driven out, so be it.
At the same time we will also keep an eye on the ATO and FWO and businesses should feel confident that if they feel they are being treated unfairly by these very large Federal Government organisations, they should contact my office or the Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman.
Our office will be running an information session on “Understanding Award Rates” led by Business SA on 4th December 2019. Stay tuned for details and keep any eye on our event page as it is frequently updated with new events.
Amendments to Retail & Commercial Lease Act 1995
The Deputy Premier and Attorney-General, the Hon Vickie Chapman MP, has introduced amendments to the Retail and Commercial Lease Act 1995 (the Act) which aims to provide certainty to lease holders affected by the change in the rental threshold.
The changes follow a formal independent review of the Act conducted by former District Court Judge Alan Moss, and subsequent and extensive industry consultation.
In introducing the Bill to State Parliament, Ms Chapman said that the Government had considered the matters raised by industry and stakeholders at length and that the changes provided a fair balance between lessees and lessors.
The Government considered the amendments proposed by the former Government and has accepted those amendments as the basis for the Retail and Commercial Leases (Miscellaneous) Amendment Bill 2019.
The new Bill intends to make processes under the Act less ambiguous and improve the transparency of the legislation, which is consistent with industry expectations.
The amendments aim to build on the existing protective measures for lessees under the Act by:
- Allowing leases to move in and out of the Act; ·
- Clarifying the application of GST; ·
- Establishing a formal process through the Valuer-General to review the rent threshold, which currently stands at $400,000;
- Providing an option for a landlord to register a new lease, which is above the current $400,000 threshold, so that the lease will not be captured by the Act should the threshold increase; ·
- Increasing requirements for disclosure of information by landlords to tenants;
- Increasing penalties for breaches of the Act (broadly in line with CPI between 1995 and 2015) and introducing two new penalties;
- Increasing the value of a bond from up to four weeks’ rent to up to three months’ rent;
- Amending the definition of a public company, and also providing protection to charity groups which may use a public company structure but are registered with the Australian Charities and Not for Profit Commission;
- Excluding overseas companies from coverage of the Act if they are registered on an international stock exchange.
A number of technical amendments are also included in the Bill.
A copy of the Retail and Commercial Leases (Miscellaneous) Amendment Bill 2019 can be found here
Labour Hire Licensing
The Labour Hire Licensing Act 2017 requires anyone who provides labour hire in South Australia to be licensed.
Labour hire providers must lodge their licence application by 31 August 2019.
Further exemptions will now apply to prevent businesses who were not intended to be captured by the scheme from having to apply for a licence.
A labour hire licence is not required where:
- Providing labour hire services is not a core function of the business. E.g - the core function of a doctors surgery is to provide health care services to the community, however, from time to time, a surgery may provide doctors or nursing staff to work in another surgery or hospital.
- Businesses provide workers to another business within the same group of companies. E.g. – a parent company supplying workers to a subsidiary company.
- Businesses provide workers to work in another business where both businesses are part of the same franchise.
- Businesses provide workers to work in another business that are not part of a franchise but are collectively operating using the same banner, branding or trading name.
More information about labour hire licences, including licence applications and other responsibilities of labour hire providers, is available on the Labour hire licence page on the SA GOV website.
If you have any queries about the licensing requirements, please email CBS via firstname.lastname@example.org
Single Touch Payroll
With the new financial year underway, small businesses are reminded that, in most cases, they must move to single touch payroll which means that every time you pay your staff this information is directly reported electronically to the Australian Taxation Office (ATO).
The size of the business has determined the timing of implementation:
- Large employers with 20 or more employees should now be reporting through STP, or have applied to the ATO for a later start date.
- Small employers with 19 or less employees will need to report through STP any time before 30 September 2019 - this is a gradual transition, and not all employers will start reporting at the same time.
- If you're an employer with four or less employees you may have additional options.
If you are unsure of your obligations, please contact your accountant or the Australian Taxation Office.
Statutory Trusts for the Building and Construction Sector
Work is continuing at a national level to develop draft model legislation for each state and territory to consider in relation to statutory cascading trusts.
These trusts would provide protection for subcontractor payments in the event of administration/receivership of a head contractor.
The NSW Government has recently released a consultants report into the benefits/costs of trust arrangements and it is interesting to note that the report confirms my view that trusts will be beneficial to small and medium businesses.
With the collapse of yet another home builder (D & C Homes), there is an increasing need for Governments to seriously consider the implementation of trusts.
The SA Government is currently considering my advice in relation to amendments to the Building and Construction Act 2009 following a national review which made 86 recommendations for change for each state and territory to consider.
Aggregation of Contracts
Following complaints from an industry body, I have written to the Minister for Transport, Infrastructure and Local Government Hon. Stephan Knoll MP about concerns in relation to the implementation of the State Government’s s “Government Purchasing” policy which was released prior to the 2018 Election.
Concerns have been raised with me about a plan by the Department of Planning, Transport and Infrastructure (DPTI) to aggregate contracts for the $200m upgrade of the Joy Baluch bridge at Port Augusta and the $90m duplication of the Port Wakefield Road at Port Wakefield and the associated overpass at the intersection of the highway with the Copper Coast Highway.
The proposal as I understand it, is for an aggregated contract with a preference for an alliance delivery model.
This appears to be entirely inconsistent with the State Government’s policy position which is to break projects down to smaller parcels of work to ensure local businesses have the capacity to bid for the projects.
We continue to work with small businesses facing disruption from roadworks.
The replacement of the tram tracks on King William Street Adelaide between Victoria Square and South Terrace will get underway in full this month.
The replacement of the pavers and redesign of King William Road Unley is also underway.
Unfair Contract Terms
Earlier this year I wrote about the intentions of both sides of Federal politics to implement much needed changes to Unfair Contract Terms.
Following the re-election of the Coalition Government I have written to the Federal Minister for Employment, Skills, Small and Family Business Hon the Senator Michaelia Cash advocating for the Government to move quickly to act on its commitments:
- Making Unfair Contract Terms illegal and attaching civil penalties to breaches;
- Redefining small business for the purposes of the protections as a business that employs fewer than 100 persons at the time the contract was entered into or had an annual turnover less than $10 million;
- Broadening the coverage of small business contracts by removing the value threshold;
- Further clarifying the definition for a standard form contract;
- Extending the UCT protections to government contracts; and
- Considering exempting ‘minimum standards’ prescribed by state and territory laws.
Building Industry Insolvencies
I am working with industry groups and the State Government to review regulatory arrangements applying to the building and construction sector following the failure of seven home builders so far in 2018/19, with the most recent, Coast to Coast Homes.
At this stage, Consumer and Business Services is undertaking a review of the licensing arrangements and the available financial information.
The failures have forced a number of home owners to lodge claims under the Builders Warranty Insurance Scheme which is underwritten by the State Government.
We will continue to work with key stakeholders on improvements which will not only provide greater protection to new home owners but also to the subcontractors and suppliers who are affected by the collapse of building companies.
Roadworks impacting Small Business
My office is working with businesses and the Unley Council as work is about to commence on the replacement of paving and upgrading of King William Road.
Similarly, work is ongoing with DPTI and the contractors who will shortly be replacing the tram tracks in King William Street between South Terrace and Victoria Square.
Review of Training Legislation
All employers are encouraged to submit their concerns and ideas for improvement to a review of the Training and Skills Development Act 2008.
The Act underpins apprentice and trainee training in South Australia. Further details can be found at: https://yoursay.sa.gov.au/decisions/skilling-south-australia/about
Submission to SA Productivity Commission Review into Procurement
I have prepared a second submission to the SA Productivity Commission in response to the release of the draft report on its Inquiry into SA Government procurement. My latest submission responded to issues raised in the draft report including:
- Lack of transparency;
- Lack of engagement, market knowledge and awareness of local capability;
- Risk averse agency procurement culture;
- Red tape;
- Delay and lack of accountability from public authorities;
- Barriers to innovation;
- Value for money and economic assessment of impacts;
- Issues specific to the not for profit sector;
- Capability and capacity;
- Data capture and management;
My response also supported all the recommendations made by the Commission which are designed to improve the Government procurement processes and access to those processes. The stage one report on procurement is due to be released to the Government on 17th May 2019. Further details can be found at www.sapc.sa.gov.au
Clearways and Parking Restrictions. My Office has requested further information from the Department of Planning Transport and Infrastructure on the process of extending clearways on some Adelaide roads to improve traffic flow. It appears there was no prior consultation with small businesses which are affected by the changes which are due to take effect later this month. Some of these businesses are paying high rents to be in high profile locations but are now challenged by loss of access by customers. I will be pursuing this matter further with the State Government.
Time for a hard-line approach to unfair contracts
Finally, there is a solid hope that big business will be held to account on unfair contract terms. The imbalance of power between big business and the attitude of “take it or leave it” to their small business suppliers and contractors must end.
Unfair contract terms can be those that give one party the power to terminate a contract or avoid, amend or limit their obligations without negotiation. Guess which party adopts this approach? The one with power and size!
In 2016, the Federal Government took the first steps to enact laws to deal with unfair contract terms in standard form contracts. However, despite strong lobbying by small business groups, the laws were restricted in terms of their application particularly in terms that they would only apply small businesses with less than 20 employees and with contracts worth up to $300,000 in a single year or $1 million if the contract ran for more than a year.
Unfortunately, this excluded many businesses such as retailers, subcontractors and suppliers in the building and construction sector, newsagents and dairy farmers for example. A further downside was the cost and time to a small business which had to make an application to a court to try and to prove a contractual clause was unfair.
Many were simply too scared to take the matter further because of the risk to their business model. The issue of unfair terms arises regularly in the business to business disputes which are dealt with by my office.
The Federal Government is to be commended for now recognising these concerns but there is still a way to go. The Government’s latest proposals include:
- making unfair contract terms illegal:
- applying civil penalties, such as fines, for breaches; ·
- expanding the definition of small business from under 20 to under 100 employees; ·
- removing the contract value thresholds; and ·
- applying the proposed laws to Government contracts.
This hard line approach is strongly supported. But we are not there yet. The Federal Government will test the proposals in a regulatory review of the impact of the proposed changes. It will be expected that the “top end of town” will oppose the changes most vigorously as they are comfortable in the way they like to deal with small businesses and don’t like being held to account. But it is heartening that this battle may be nearing the end with the Federal Opposition also promising strong reform to unfair contract laws including fines of up to $10 million for breaches.
Inquiry into SA Government Procurement Expands
The SA Productivity Commission’s inquiry into procurement has been expanded.
As Small Business Commissioner, I raised concerns with the Commission that the current inquiry did not cover building and construction activities and also procurement by a number of large prescribed public authorities such as SA Water, the Housing Trust and Urban Renewal Authority (Renewal SA).
The State Government has now extended the scope of the inquiry to include these important elements with a second final report due to be completed by the Commission in October 2019. The inquiry provides an excellent opportunity for small businesses to provide positive and/or negative feedback on the State Government’s procurement processes as well as suggestions for improvement.
Further details can be found here.
Job Accelerator Grants
Many small businesses are due to receive payments for new job positions created under the former Government’s Job Accelerator Grant program.
Businesses which have lodged claims and not received the grants or are having other difficulties should contact my office and we will liaise with Revenue SA which has responsibility for the program. Further details can be found at here www.revenuesa.sa.gov.au/grants-and-concenssions.
Working with the Australian Financial Complaints Authority (AFCA)
I am pleased to be working closely with AFCA, Chief Ombudsman and CEO, David Locke and new Lead Ombudsman for Small Business Geoff Browne.
Mr Browne is a former Victorian Small Business Commissioner and our office has already referred one matter of concern to AFCA to investigate.
Small businesses can lodge complaints directly with AFCA or our office can assist in the process. Our office is responsible for farm debt mediation as well as general dispute resolution which can include those matters involving financial organisations.
Similar to the Office of the Small Business Commissioner, AFCA, which was established in November 2018, provides an independent external dispute resolution process for small businesses. AFCA is a one-stop-shop for consumers and small businesses with complaints about financial firms, including banks, credit providers, insurance companies, financial and investment advisers and superannuation funds.
The service is free for small businesses and consumers.
AFCA defines a small business as having fewer than 100 employees (an increase from 20 employees) and can consider complaints about small business credit facilities up to $5 million (previously $2 million). Importantly, the amount of compensation AFCA can award per claim for such complaints has more than tripled, to $1 million ($2 million for primary producers). Different thresholds apply for other financial products and services. You can contact AFCA on 1800 931 678 or visit www.afca.org.au if you have a financial complaint or require further information.
Roadworks and Small Business
The Office of the Small Business Commissioner is working closely with the City of Adelaide and the Unley Council on two major infrastructure projects. The City of Adelaide’s $16.85m upgrade of Gawler Place and the Unley Council’s replacement of King William Road will have impacts on businesses.
I have been working with both council’s on preliminary consultation and planning to ensure the needs of the businesses are taken into account.
The Office is in the process of drafting new guidelines which Government bodies will be able to use in the planning and execution of major projects to ensure business and customer disruption is managed and minimised. The Office is also working with the Department of Planning, Transport and Infrastructure on the tram track replacement between Victoria Square and South Terrace.
Building Industry Consultation
The Minister for Industry and Skills, Hon. David Pisoni and the Minister for Transport Infrastructure and Local Government, Hon. Stephan Knoll will hold a round table with industry stakeholders later this month to discuss possible changes to the Building and Construction Industry Security of Payment Act 2009.
The discussion follows consideration by the Government of 86 recommendations contained in a Federal Government review of similar acts from all states and territories.
I am continuing to work with suppliers to GFG – the owner of the Whyalla Steelworks and One Steel – on outstanding payments. Over the past three months I have been contacted by a range of businesses concerned that payments have not been made on the due date.
I have raised this matter with GFG which has blamed system issues and its capital management program for the problems. GFG expects to have the issues resolved by next month. My office will continue to monitor payment performance.
I have asked GFG to consider a payment terms which are a maximum of 30 days rather than up to 92 days.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) is stepping up its scrutiny of franchise arrangements. In the most recent judgement, the Federal Court has imposed a $2,604,000 penalty against Ultra Tune Australia Pty Ltd for breaching both the Franchising Code of Conduct and the Australian Consumer Law (ACL).
Ultra Tune is one of the largest independent motor repair organisations in Australia and has franchises in all mainland states and territories. Justice Bromwich of the Federal Court found that Ultra Tune had failed to act in good faith in breach of the Franchising Code and had made false or misleading representations in breach of the ACL, in its dealings with a prospective franchisee.
The court found Ultra Tune made false or misleading representations to the prospective franchisee about the price of the franchise, the ongoing rent of the premises, and the age of the franchise. The prospective franchisee was also told that a $33,000 deposit was refundable when it was not.
Ultra Tune also breached the Franchising Code by failing to prepare marketing fund statements within the required timeframes, failing to provide these statements and audit reports to franchisees, and failing to include sufficient detail in the statements. The judgment noted Ultra Tune’s attempts to mislead the Court in its defence of the ACCC’s action, by relying on documents purportedly sent to the prospective franchisee.
Justice Bromwich said there must be no tolerance for manufacturing evidence to deceive a regulator, and even less when the deception is maintained in Court. These are the first proceedings that the ACCC has brought against a franchisor alleging a breach of the Franchising Code obligation to act in “good faith” in business dealings with franchisees.
The Court ordered Ultra Tune pay the prospective franchisee his $33,000 deposit back with interest.
The Office of the Small Business Commissioner can assist franchisees with information on how to deal with any issues which take place in franchise agreements and the Office is recognised by the ACCC as being able to provide mediation services under the national Franchise Code.
Federal Small Business Advisory Group
As Small Business Commissioner, I have been appointed to the Federal Government’s Small Business Advisory Group.
The Group will be co- chaired by Minister for Industry, Science and Technology, Hon Karen Andrews MP and the Minister for Small and Family Business, Skills and Vocational Education Senator the Hon Michaelia Cash and its membership includes a cross section of small business representatives.
The group will provide advice on a wide range initiatives to assist small business including digital capabiltiiy and mental health and well being. The first meeting of the group is expected to be held in February 2019.
Further details can be found here.
Productivity Commission Review into Procurement
I have prepared a submission to the Productivity Commission on Procurement processes undertaken by the State Government.
The key areas covered include:
- Payment Terms
- Late and disputed payments
- Transfer of Risk
- Due diligence and Pre-Qualification by Government Agencies
- Financial capacity of small businesses
- Accessing Government Tenders
- Effective Purchasing by bridging the gap between Government and Business
- Aggregating Contracts at the expense of small businesses
- Whole of Government Contracts
- Industry Participation Policy
Further details on the review can be found here.
Late Payments of Accounts
Further to the submission above, I will be focussing further on late payments by business in the new year.
It remains a concern from many businesses that deal with my office, that they are not paid in accordance with their terms and conditions and this severely impacts cash flow.
I am working with my national counterparts on this issue as there needs to be a significant improvement, particularly among big business, of their payment terms and processes.
Payroll Tax cut for Small Business
Good news for small businesses with a payroll under $1.5 million, with payroll tax eliminated from 1st January 2019.
Those businesses with taxable wages between $1.5 million and $1.7 million will benefit from a reduced payroll tax rate.
For further details visit https://www.revenuesa.sa.gov.au/taxes-and-duties/payroll-tax
New legislation is now in force which requires government agencies to pay interest on invoices for goods and services if they pay late.
The State Government requires agencies to pay their bills within 30 days. Where this does not occur and the invoice is under $1 million and the interest payment would be more than $10, then the interest amount should automatically be credited to the invoiced amount.
Businesses who experience difficulties in obtaining payment from Government agencies, should contact my office for assistance.
The ongoing challenge for small businesses affected by road and other infrastructure works continues.
In my 2017-18 Annual Report which was tabled in Parliament last month, I outlined the issues businesses face and the need for compensation where losses from the impacts of the works cannot be adequately mitigated.
Further details can be found in our Annual Report here.
New Code to deal with disputes arising when miners seek access to farming land
As part of an election commitment, the State Government has enacted an industry code dealing with land access issues between farmers and resource companies.
Farmers will have an opportunity to use alternative dispute resolution processes when mining and resource companies seek access to their land under the Fair Trading (Mining and Resources Industry Land Access Dispute Resolution Code) Regulations 2018.
The use of alternative dispute resolution processes under the code is designed to help resolve land access disputes in a timely and cost effective way, without the need for lengthy and costly court proceedings.
Under the new industry code I have the authority to monitor, investigate and enforce compliance with the code. I also have the power to require parties to attend meetings, exchange information, answer questions and participate in an alternative dispute resolution process, which in most cases is mediation.
Generally, the cost of mediation will be $195 per party per day, but the fee can be waived if I believe that it is warranted in the circumstances.
Further details on the Code can be found here.
Prosecution for failure to provide information to the Small Business Commissioner
As part of my inquiries into three complaints about retention payments owed to subcontractors on the New Royal Adelaide Hospital project, I served a legal notice on the joint venture developers Hansen Yuncken Leighton Contractors (HYLC) to produce information relating to retention payments.
HYLC did not provide the information requested and were subsequently prosecuted. The parties pleaded guilty to the offence in the Adelaide Magistrates Court in November 2018.
They were fined a total of $3600 and paid all costs associated with the prosecution.
Finally from all the staff at the Office of the Small Business Commissioner, a very Merry Christmas and a safe, prosperous and happy New Year.
Business Confidence Up
Great to see the results of the annual BDO 2018 Statewide Business Survey which show businesses are experiencing a surge in optimism with 56% believing the state economy is improving, up from 25% last year.
47% of businesses report having trouble finding and retaining suitable staff saying this is due to a lack of suitably qualified candidates.
The State Government has set aside $200 million to support the growth of trade skills and a target of 20,800 extra apprenticeships and traineeships.
Small Business wins with new payment legislation
Small Businesses dealing with the State Government are significant winners from new legislation which passed State Parliament last month.
After originally promising in a pre-election policy that businesses who worked for or supplied goods to the State Government would be entitled to interest after 60 days, the State Government has modified the approach so that the interest payment will be made if the account is not paid within 30 days.
The key criteria are that the interest amount is over $10 and the invoice is under $1 million.
The new system will now put pressure on all Government agencies to speed up their processes and ensure they pay their bills in a timely manner. The Government has made it clear to all agencies there will be no financial top up for interest payments which result from failed processes.
This is a considerable win for businesses who often struggle with cash flow issues on a daily basis. And should disputes arise, the legislation is explicit that my office will assist in resolving disputes for small businesses.
The new legislation took effect from 1 November 2018. It is commendable that the State Government is taking a lead role in this area.
Private enterprise still has a long way to go to match this standard in many cases.
It has been good to be part of Business SA’s Regional Voice program again with visits to Port Pirie and Kadina in the past month.
Skills shortages is one of the key issues facing the regions along with energy costs. Other issues which have been identified in Business SA’s Regional Voice survey include economic infrastructure requirements; labour costs and industrial relations; and telecommunication service levels.
I will be in Murray Bridge on 17 October for another Regional Voice event and in Whyalla on 19 October for the Whyalla Chamber of Commerce Annual Awards.
Ottoway Engineering and Ottoway Fabrication
I mentioned in the August 2018 newsletter that our office had been approached by a number of unsecured creditors to the above companies. Following representations by my office additional funding was provided by the companies’ bankers and the directors to allow Deeds of Company Arrangements to proceed.
The end result is that unsecured small business creditors will receive a greater return under the new arrangements than that previously offered.
Impact of road and infrastructure projects on small business
Our office is continuing to work with State and Local Government’s on processes to improve the way large road and other projects are managed.
Too often local small businesses suffer at the heavy handed approach adopted by the project managers and the respective arms of Government. While the State Government is attempting to improve its approach with a commitment to greater consultation early in the project development, there is considerable room for improvement.
In cases where the adverse impact is unavoidable and where access to businesses is severely limited or indeed cut off, I will continue to advocate for compensation to be paid to the affected businesses.
The challenge for the Federal Government is to now deliver on key statements of support for small business.
At the recent annual Council of Small Business Organisations Australia (COSBOA) national summit in Sydney, the new Minister for Energy, Hon Angus Taylor delivered a clear promise that his number one priority was to reduce power prices and keep the lights on.
Small business operators will be looking for an early delivery of that promise given a third of small business owners are experiencing “bill shock”.
One statistic presented at the summit, was that 57% of small business owners reported being stressed by energy costs. Small business owners face enough challenges without continually getting hit with rising energy costs which have spiralled out of control.
The ball is firmly in the energy companies court – change your ways and charging, or face government intervention.
The Energy Minister went so far as to threaten that companies would have to divest assets if they didn’t address one of the biggest issues facing, not only small businesses but also the wider community.
While that is welcome news, small businesses (if they haven’t already done so) can make savings by reviewing their electricity arrangements and moving retailers or demanding a better deal than the standard default rate.
Also at the summit, the new Minister for Small and Family Business, Hon Michaelia Cash also affirmed the Government’s commitment to the sector.
One initiative which has been positive is the instant tax write off for new assets purchased under the value of $20,000. This program only runs until June 2019 and it is clear that small business owners will be looking for this program to be extended but also the asset value limit increased to take into account that many small business asset purchases such as vehicles fall way outside of the current $20,000 limit.
The current rules are:
- If you bought an asset before 30 June and it cost less than $20,000, a small business can write off the business portion in their tax return.
- Small businesses are eligible to use simplified depreciation rules and claim an immediate deduction for the business portion of each asset (new or second hand) costing less than $20,000 if:
- they had a turnover less than $10 million (increased from $2 million on 1 July 2016); and
- the asset was first used or installed ready for use in the income year the small business is claiming it in.
Assets that cost $20,000 or more can't be immediately deducted. They will continue to be deducted over time using the general small business pool. A small business can write off the balance of this pool if the balance (before applying any other depreciation deduction) is less than $20,000 at the end of an income year.
It is recommended that small businesses discuss any considerable asset purchase with their accountants or other independent business advisers before making the purchase.
Farm Debt Mediation Act 2018
The Farm Debt Mediation Act 2018 commences operation on 3 September 2018. Importantly this new legislation provides that financiers must go through a legislated process revolving around mediation before they can foreclose on a farmer.
My office will be responsible for the administration and operation of the Act and further details can be found here.
Farm Debt Mediation
South Australia has a new Farm Debt Mediation Act 2018.
The legislation passed the Legislative Council late last month and will be proclaimed shortly.
The new Act ensures that creditors, such as Banks, have to follow a formal process underpinned by mediation prior to foreclosing on a farmer.
As Small Business Commissioner, I will be responsible for the administration of the act and providing information to both farmers and creditors on the process which needs to be followed. Our office will be working closely with Rural Business Support to provide appropriate assistance to farmers.
Assisting primary producers dealing with miners seeking access to farm land
My office has been working closely with Primary Industries and Regions SA (PIRSA) and the Department of Energy and Mining (DEM) on the processes to provide an independent flow of information to farmers and other primary producers affected by exploration or mining.
A new Industry Code under the Fair Trading Act 1987 has been developed and will be sent to key stakeholders for comment by the Minister for Industry and Skills, Hon. David Pisoni, MP shortly. The Code, when enacted, will provide me with the necessary powers to access information and initiate alternative dispute resolution processes in this complex area.
Small Business Friendly Council Initiative
The Small Business Friendly Council program continues to grow with the Adelaide City Council and Berri-Barmera Councils voting to sign up last month. The District Council of Elliston has also joined the program recently.
The program is designed to assist Councils in reaching out to their small business constituencies and make it easier for them to navigate council requirements and for councils to improve their methods of doing business including dispute resolution, paying accounts on time and procurement.
I will be travelling to Port Pirie early this month to present to the respective regional local government groups to highlight the benefits of the program.
Ottoway Engineering and Fabrication
As Small Business Commissioner I have been approached by a number of businesses impacted by the recent decision to place Ottoway Engineering and Fabrication into administration.
I am currently making inquiries into the matter through the administrators, Pitcher Partners, as to the events leading up to the administration.
Cashless payments on the move
Research undertaken by the Australian Tax Office (ATO) has shown 2 in 3 consumers are open to the idea of a cashless society with 57% using less cash than 3 years ago.
A staggering 60% of us carry no or limited cash while those aged between 25 and 34 are most likely not to carry cash at all and expect to be pay electronically.
These statistics show the absolute need for all businesses to have electronic payment facilities. If your customers aren’t carrying cash, businesses need to accommodate this change or risk losing their customers.
The good news is that 90% of businesses already accept payments through electronic channels.
Farm Debt Mediation legislation in Parliament
Legislation to implement a formal and mandatory farm debt mediation scheme in South Australia has passed the House of Assembly in State Parliament.
The legislation is now before the Legislative Council. As Small Business Commissioner I will be responsible for administering the legislation and importantly managing the mediation process. Consultation has already taken place with Primary Producers SA and the Australian Banking Association and a number of their members.
Both groups are supportive of the Government’s initiative.
It is hoped the legislation will be passed by September 2018 and enacted shortly thereafter.
Regional Growth Fund
The State Government has launched its Regional Growth Fund initiative with the commitment of $150 million over the next 10 years.
The program is designed to support new economic activity and infrastructure which delivers direct benefits to the economy. Applications for the 2018/19 round of $15 million open on 2 July 2018.
Projects from local government, incorporated associations or business clusters will be considered.
Further details can be found here.
Assisting Primary Producers dealing with Mining Companies
Work is underway to implement a new Government policy to assist primary producers dealing with mining and resource companies seeking access to farm land.
As Small Business Commissioner, I am responsible for implementing the policy which will require the development of an industry code under the Fair Trading Act 1987 to provide me with the necessary powers to work with the parties in an alternative dispute resolution process.
There will be extensive consultation with interested stakeholders prior to the finalisation of the Code.
It is hoped that the new process will be operating in the final quarter of 2018.
National Review of Building and Construction Industry Security of Payment Acts
The Federal Government has released a national review into the various State and Territory Security of Payment Acts. These Acts are designed to provide a quick adjudication process for payment disputes between building industry participants including sub-contractors and suppliers.
The report contains 86 recommendations and I am currently reviewing these recommendations and their impact on the Building and Construction Industry Security of Payment Act 2009 before providing advice to the State Government through the Minister for Industry and Skills, Hon David Pisoni MP.
The review, undertaken by John Murray AM, can be found here.
Adelaide Business Hub wins key Government contract to help small business
The Adelaide Business Hub is part of a consortium which has been successful in a tender for the latest round of Federal funding under the Australian Small Business Advisory Services Program (ASBAS).
The work will focus on assisting small businesses with low cost and easy to understand advice on a range of digital solutions to meet business needs according to the Federal Government.
The Adelaide Business Hub will work with the Melbourne Innovation Centre to deliver the program to SA businesses.
To find out more visit adelaidebusinesshub.com.au
The Minister for Industry and Skills Hon David Pisoni MP will outline the new Government’s small business agenda at an event hosted by the Adelaide Business Hub on Friday 22 June 2018 at the Lakes Resort Hotel at West Lakes.
I am also looking forward to speaking at the event on some key business issues.
Further details can be found here
Food Labelling Requirements
SA businesses in the food sector need to ensure that their products comply with Country of Origin Food Labelling standards. From 1st July 2018, food to be sold in Australia must be labelled according to the standards unless that food was packaged prior to the end of June 2018.
The standards are designed to provide consumers with greater information on where the food and products come from.
The new standards will be enforce by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) which will be on the lookout for false and misleading claims or representations about the goods and labelling which does not meet the requirements.
Further information can be found on the ACCC website or alternatively the recording of our information sessoin on the topic, presented by the ACCC representatives, will soon be available for viewing on our YouTube Channel.
Infrastructure Impacts on Small Business
I am working with the new Minister for Industry and Skills Hon David Pisoni MP on the ongoing issue of the impact of road and other infrastructure works on small business.
I am dealing with a number of businesses which have been devastated by various major projects and the level of support they have received falls well short of what I believe is reasonable.
Ultimately it will be for the Government to determine whether it wishes to adopt a new approach to this important issue but I will continue to lobby hard on getting small businesses affected a fairer deal for the disruption and loss of trade they endure while these projects are undertaken.
Farm Debt Mediation
Work is well underway in the development of legislation to enact farm debt mediation legislation in South Australia.
The work being led by Primary Industries and Regions SA (PIRSA), in-conjunction with my office, is in response to an election commitment that the new Government would enact legislation to require financial institutions to undertake a formal process of mediation prior to any foreclosure action.
The new legislation which will be considered by Parliament later this year will be administered by my office which will have responsibility for managing the mediation process.
Following the March 2018 election, Hon David Pisoni MP was appointed Minister for Industry and Skills with responsibility for small business matters. I met with the new Minister on 22 March 2018 - the day of his appointment - to congratulate him on his appointment and outline key issues before me as Small Business Commissioner.
The Minister also visited the Small Business Centre at 99 Gawler Place the following week to meet staff and discuss the operations of our shopfront.
The Minister is acutely aware of the challenges facing small business having trained as a cabinet maker before starting his own furniture manufacturing and retailing operation in Adelaide which he ran for more than 20 years before entering State Parliament. Mr Pisoni has been a director of the National Furniture Association, president of the Unley Chamber of Commerce and an active member of the Unley Main Street Association.
We look forward to working with the Minister and the new Government on behalf of all South Australian small businesses.
The Office of the Small Business Commissioner is working to implement new policy initiatives put forward by the new State Government. The first involves extending existing alternative dispute resolution processes to assist farmers dealing with mining companies seeking access to their land.
I am currently working with the Government on developing the appropriate legal mechanism to facilitate this important work.
The second initiative involves implementing Farm Debt Mediation legislation.
Our office is working with the Department of Primary Industries and Regions SA (PIRSA) to prepare the necessary legislation.
It is pleasing to see one of the new Government’s early initiatives has been to instruct all Government agencies to improve their payment times for small business.
Cash flow is vital to small business and State Government should be the leader in improving payment times and terms. As Small Business Commissioner I will be lobbying the State Government to improve its payment times from 30 days to 20 days or less.
The State Government has also announced it will abolish Payroll Tax for small businesses with an annual wage bill under $1.5 million.
One of the first discussions with Minister Pisoni involved the impact on small businesses of road, transport and other infrastructure works. My office has dealt with a number of examples of businesses which have been significantly damaged by impacts on pedestrian and traffic flows from capital works.
I will be continuing to work with the Government to implement initiatives which recognize small business as part of the project planning to ensure impacts can be minimized or eliminated.
The Office of the Small Business Commissioner is working closely with Federal Government agencies to build awareness of scams. The program being led by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commissioner which will co-ordinate the 2018 Scam Awareness Week between 21st and 25th May 2018.
In 2017 there were 161,528 reports nationwide with losses reported to be $90,928,622. The top scam by amounts lost related to investment schemes where more than $30 million was lost.
Scamming can take many forms including threats to life, phishing, identity theft, hacking, malware and ransomeware, overpayment and false billing.
Phone calls and email are the most successful scam delivery methods. Small Businesses are encouraged to contact the Office of the Small Business Commissioner or the ACCC if they are subject to scamming. Further details can be found here.
Inquiry into the Dairy Industry by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission
I have lodged a submission in response to the ACCC’s interim report into the Dairy industry which is generally supportive of stronger regulatory framework to protect dairy farmers and others in the supply chain in terms of contractual arrangements, alternative disputes resolution and mediation and supply of information to farmers. Further information can be found here.
Last month I travelled to Whyalla for the Business SA Regional Voice meeting which was attended by nearly 20 local businesses. In the same trip I visited Port Pirie and attended the Chamber of Commerce launch of their new look and name “Business Port Pirie “website which can be found here.
Our BizLinks Expo will be in the Riverland on Thursday 5th April 2017. The BizLinks Expo brings together key agencies across State, Federal and Local Government and other bodies which can assist small business in a wide range of areas.
Small Business Commissioner
Small Business Friendly Council initiative
2018 is off to a great start with more councils signing up to the Small Business Friendly Council Initiative. So far 15 councils out of the State’s 68 local government entities have pledged their willingness to work with my office and small business to deliver “win-win” benefits for the community.
Local Government plays a vital role in economic development in the State and is a pivotal element in small business development and growth.
Each council is asked to sign a charter which sets out principles including:
- Commitment to small business;
- Commitment to customer service;
- Simplifying the relationship with small business;
- Commitment to payment of undisputed accounts within 30 days;
- Effective dispute resolution process;
- Small business engagement;
- Review of Procurement policies; and
- A number of specific initiatives
Further details on the initiative can be found here including Councils which are committed to being small business friendly
State/Local Government Red Tape Task Force
As Small Business Commissioner, I was pleased to present at the Inaugural meeting of the Premier’s State and Local Government Red Tape Taskforce.
One key concern of the Housing Industry Association which I highlighted was the issue of home builders having to seek permits from Councils to get deliveries to construction sites; road and footpath closures arrangements; the need to develop complex traffic management plans and the fees involved.
The Task Force will look at a wide range of issues emanating from the application by Local Government of various policies and procedures with a view to developing ways to simplify the way forward.
Other issues on the agenda including outdoor dining and health inspections and rules.
Building and Construction Code under Fair Trading Act 1987
New powers were enacted on 5 December 2017 to give the Small Business Commissioner greater powers to assist in alternative dispute resolution in the Building and Construction sector.
When activated by the Small Business Commissioner in relation to a particular dispute, The Fair Trading (Building and Construction Industry Dispute Resolution Code) Regulations 2017 (Building Code) provides powers to require parties to exchange information, attend mediations, answer questions and produce documents or face a fine of up to $4,000 for a body corporate or $500 for an individual.
Further and more serious penalties can apply under the Fair Trading Act 1987 for Code breaches. Further details can be found here.
Small Business Commissioner
As we move into 2018, the road ahead for small business is one with many challenges.
But has the New Year ever been different. It is the size and scale of the challenges which have increased in my view.
Big business continues to try and find ways to attack small business operators with tactics which are questionable at best, and unconscionable or perhaps even criminal, at worst.
Our office has been working in a number of areas to try and keep the playing field level and we work closely with Federal Government agencies where necessary to seek further investigation of misleading, unfair or unconscionable practices.
In one case, we have asked the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) to review contracts where a large manufacturer has engaged small business operators to distribute food products. Our issues are based on the behavior of the much bigger business.
We are concerned about the power imbalance between the parties and the way that the big company is leveraging its power.
I also welcome the Royal Commission into the Banking and Superannuation industry.
While our office has developed good working relationships with financial institutions during dispute issues, I am seeing ongoing evidence of the imbalance of power between the small businesses and their bankers.
Too often I see decisions being made by bankers based in other States which unfairly damage the SA small business owner.
Generally, where we do become involved in a dispute between banks and their customers, we are able to negotiate a fairer outcome than the one originally proposed.
There are many areas where disputes arise. My skilled team of staff are often able to assist small business owners in negotiating a resolution. Our alternative dispute resolution process requires “good faith” from all parties to be effective.
Disputes that we see are many and varied and range from concerns over advertising contracts through to retail and commercial lease issues and much more.
Building issues are also prominent and I now have new powers under the Fair Trading Act 1987 to make enquiries and require parties to undertake mediation to sort out disputes. Further powers are contained in Industry Codes covering the farming, newsagency, motor vehicle and franchising sectors.
Where necessary, I can draw on other legislative powers as part of the resolution process.
Our ongoing support for small businesses also includes providing free regular information sessions on a wide range of topics. We now have webinar facilities available so business owners across the State can keep up to date on-line if they can’t get to our city office sessions.
We are ready to assist all small businesses wherever we can. Do not hesitate to call us on 8303 2026 or 1800 072 722.
I wish you a dynamic and prosperous 2018 - and one free of disputes!
Small Business Commissioner
ACCC Delivers for Adelaide Small Businesses in the Waste Industry
The South Australian Small Business Commissioner has welcomed a decision by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) to refuse to allow five Adelaide councils to form a cartel to tender out more than a third of Adelaide’s waste management.
South Australia’s first Small Business Statement released
The State Government’s first consolidated “State of the State” Annual Small Business Statement sets a future course for the sector that provides almost a quarter of a million local jobs, is worth $34 billion each year and underpins the local economy.
Released today at an industry event by Minister for Small Business Martin Hamilton-Smith, the 2016 Small Business Statement features a snapshot of the local SME sector and delivers a baseline from which we can measure our improvement in an area that still faces key challenges including energy costs and on-going IR challenges.
Report on Inset (or Embedded) Electricity Networks
The Small Business Commissioner has completed his report into Inset (or Embedded) Electricity Networks.
The report which was originally requested by the State Government in 2012 notes that there have been significant developments in the market place including the transfer of regulatory responsibility from ESCOSA to the AER in 2013.
The report notes that the AER has undertaken significant progress in reforming the rules around Inset electricity networks and makes a number of recommendations for further improvement to monitoring and education of industry participants.
To read the report click here.
State Government Grant to Support Bedford in Whyalla
The State Government announced today it will provide a grant of $100,000 to ensure Bedford Group can continue to provide meaningful work to its supported employees in the Whyalla area.
The grant will be made available to the Whyalla City Council so that the council can engage Bedford to carry out essential collection of illegally-dumped rubbish, which has spiked in recent months.
Official Opening of the Small Business Centre
The new Small Business Centre at 99 Gawler Place was opened on Tuesday 15 November by Minister for Small Business Martin Hamilton-Smith and Treasurer Tom Koutsantonis. Housing the new office of the Small Business Commissioner, the centre brings together services and advice from the Department of State Development and Office of the Industry Advocate.
Payment Terms Inquiry Underway
The payment practices of big businesses and governments across the country will be put under the microscope by Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman (ASBFEO) Kate Carnell during an inquiry aimed at weeding-out patterns of behaviour that are undermining the financial viability of small businesses and putting pressure on the entire economy.
The 'Payment Times and Practices' Inquiry is the first self-initiated inquiry undertaken by the ASBFEO. It will be led by ASBFEO in partnership with state-based Small Business Commissioners in New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia and Western Australia, and will be carried out in association with the Council of Small Business Australia (COSBOA) and the Australian Institute of Credit Management (AICM).
Small businesses who would like to have their say can do so at http://www.asbfeo.gov.au/inquiries or by phoning 1300 650 460.
To read the full media release click here.
Small Business Commissioner backing state's $34 billion SME sector
The Office of the Small Business Commissioner continued its support of the state's economic engine room, the SME sector in 2015/16.
Minister for Small Business Martin Hamilton-Smith tabled the latest annual report of the SBC Office this week. The report shows there was a substantial increase in the number of enquiries in the 2015/16 financial year, up 15 per cent to 3134 on the previous year.
To read the full news release click here.
ACCC Unfair Contract Terms Laws
The ACCC have released a fact sheet on the key aspects of the new Unfair Contract Terms Law for small businesses that commences on 12 November 2016.
Stay Smart Online Week
The 10 -14 of October, marks Stay Smart Online Week!!
Stay Smart Online is the Australian Government's online safety and security website, designed to help everyone understand the risks and simple steps we can take to protect our personal and financial information online.
Staying smart online can mean a variety of things, including:
- Choosing secure passwords and updating them regularly.
- Frequently backing up your data.
- Being aware of the latest online threats.
- Knowing what information you can safely trust online, and how it can be used by others.
- Ensuring your phones and computers are equipped with the right security measures.
- Reporting suspicious emails or links you receive.
To remain updated with recent online threats and how they can be managed, you can sign up to Stay Smart Online’s Alert Service for free.
Further information can be found from the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) via Scam Watch, or by contacting DSD.InformationSecurity@sa.gov.au.
STEM building works opportunities
Jobs now - Jobs of the future
Up to $250 million is being invested in local jobs to upgrade science, technology, engineering and maths facilities in our schools.
This will create jobs in the construction industry in South Australia now, and ensure our students will have the skills and knowledge they need for the hi-tech jobs, like defence, that are the future of our State.
Skills register seeking employment opportunities for local builders
If you are a local builder who would like to be part of the employment opportunities from the STEM building works program, register your interest by completing the skills register.
Register your details at https://stemskillsregister.eventbrite.com.au.
To see the flyer on STEM building works opportunities click here.
Procurement Reforms - A win for Small Business
The State Government has announced sweeping changes to procurement that will dramaticall improve the experience for small businesses. In March 2015 the Industry Advocate launched a policy paper titled Suppliers as Partners. Many of the recommendations in that policy paper have culminated in these reforms.
One streamlined contract replaces 11 different contracts
- On 1 September 2016, the State Government replaced 11 different contracts with one streamlined contract. It will be mandated for use across government.
- This contract is small business friendly. It will apply in key areas including most consultancy services and low to medium risk goods and other services.
Reduced insurance requirements & better default limits on liability
- In a major win for small business the contract requires lower levels of insurance, only $1,000,000 in public liability insurance down from $5,000,000 until now.
- There is no contract indemnities required from suppliers.
- Insurance policies will not require the State Government to be named on certificates.
- And the contract sets default limits of liability of between one and five times the contract value.
- It represents not only a more commercial approach to risk setting in contracts by government but we have also listened to good sense from small business.
To read more about the procurement reform click here.
Consultation begins on new strategy to support small businesses across the State
Small businesses and industry groups are invited to have their say about the priorities and challenges facing small businesses, and how Government and industry could work together to address these.
The feedback, ideas and business intelligence gathered through the consultation will inform a new Small Business Statement for South Australia to support small business growth and jobs.
The surve closes on 23 September - to have your say visit yoursay.sa.gov.au/small-business-statement
To read the full news release click here.
Regional BizLinks - Victor Harbor & Murray Bridge
The Office of the Small Business Commissioner held Regional BizLinks Seminars in Victor Harbor and Murray Bridge on Wednesday 7 September 2016.
This brought together a number of Federal, State and Local government agencies that provide services and advice to small businesses.
The presentations from both locations can be found below.
Image: Small Business Commissioner, John Chapman, presenting at Victor Harbor BizLinks.
Regional BizLinks - North & Eyre Peninsula
Last week the Office of the Small Business Commissioner held Regional BizLinks Seminars in Port Lincoln, Whyalla and Pt Pirie.
This brought together a number of Federal, State and Local government agencies that provide services and advice to small businesses.
The presentations from each of the three locations can be found below.
Government services go on the road for regional SA
Small businesses in the North and Eyre Peninsula regions of SA will get a unique opportunity next month to connect with a number of local, State and Federal Government agencies that provide services and advice to small businesses.
The Office of the Small Business Commissioner will be holding the the popular BizLink Seminars in Port Lincoln, Whyalla and Port Pirie.
The Small Business Commissioner, John Chapman, has been leading the BizLink Seminars for the past 18 months and has seen increasing levels of attendance.
Small Businesses sign up for job creation grants
South Australian small businesses have begun registering for the State Government's job creation grants announce in the State Budget.
Applicants for grants under the $109 million scheme include Boyd Plumbing and Gas, which has taken on an apprentice and applied for the $4,000 Small Business and Start-ups grant.
Other applicants include South Australian small businesses in the health, trades and design industries that have taken on additional employees above their current staff numbers.
The State Budget initiative is designed to incentivise small and medium-sized businesses with the capacity to grow to employ more staff.
Businesses must register a new employee within three months of their start date to be eligible. Applications can be made at www.revenuesa.sa.gov.au/jobs.
Beware of Business Scams impersonating the ACCC
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commissioner is warning businesses to watch out for scam emails that claim to be from the ACCC but in fact contain links that can infect your computer with malware.
In the past week, several businesses have reported receiving bogus requests from the ACCC to respond to a complaint that has been made about their business, or seek payment for an infringement notice for breach of copyright.
Read the full Media Release here.
You can report scams to the ACCC via the Scamwatch Report a Scam page
Job Accelerator Grant Scheme
As part of the 2016-17 State Budget, handed down on 7 July 2016, the Government has announced a Job Accelerator Grant Scheme to encourage South Australian businesses to employ additional full-time, part-time and casual employees, and maintain them for at least 12 months.
Under the Job accelerator Grant Scheme there will be two grants offered, with different eligibility requirements. These grants are listed below:
- A Job Accelerator Grant of up to $10,000 ($5,000 a year for two years) per new Full-Time equivalent (FTE) job created. This is available for businesses liable for payroll tax in SA with total Australian wages of $5 million or less.
- A Job Accelerator Grant for Small Business & Start-ups of up to $4,000 ($2,000 a year for two years) per new job created is available for most businesses not liable for payroll tax. This includes businesses with Australian wages below the payroll tax free threshold (currently $600,000) and most organisations that are exempt from payroll tax (e.g. public benevolent institution).
Businesses will be eligible to receive the grant for each additional worker employed by them in a new position between 1 July 2016 and 30 June 2018. The payment will be made on the first and second anniversary date of employment.
Businesses must register a new employee within 90 days of the employee’s commencement date.
Registrations for the Job Accelerator Grant Scheme can be made vial the following link www.revnet.sa.gov.au/grant/public/register.xhtml
Review of the Building and Construction Security of Payment Act 2009
The State Government has launched the next stage of a program to improve payments to subcontractors in the building industry with the release of a series of proposed changes for consultation.
Minister for Small Business, Martin Hamilton-Smith, has asked the Small Business Commissioner, John Chapman, to coordinate submissions on proposed changes to the Building and Construction Industry Security of Payment Act 2009 (the Act) and other initiatives to improve payment to subcontractors in the building and construction industry.
The Consultation Paper details the Small Business Commissioner’s recommendations to the State Government, which include that of the review of the Act undertaken by Retired District Court Judge Alan Moss. This review was tabled in both Houses of Parliament on 12 May 2015.
The proposed changes are set out in a three stage approach. It is anticipated that the expeditious implementation of stage one will result in a significant improvement in the operation of the Act and principal contractor behaviour. A heavier regulatory approach could be implemented by the Government under stage two, and possibly stage three, if the changes made under stage one fail to improve conduct in the industry and payment to subcontractors.
Small Business Commissioner, John Chapman, has welcomed the opportunity to seek feedback on the proposed changes and the three stage approach. Mr Chapman encourages stakeholders to identify any alternative initiatives in their submissions.
Consultation is open for a period of two months and submissions commenting on the Consultation Paper close on Friday 19 August 2016.
Submissions can be sent to:
The Office of the Small Business Commissioner
GPO Box 1264 ADELAIDE SA 5001
or submitted by email to: email@example.com
Any enquiries should be directed to (08) 8303 2026 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Submissions will be made public on the Small Business Commissioner’s website unless confidentiality is specifically requested.
The Moss Review can be found here, the Consulation Paper can be found here and the Building and Construction Security of Payment Act 2009 and Regulations can be found here.
View the Ministers News Release dated 17 June 2016 here
Launch of Aboriginal Business Connect
Aboriginal Business Connect has recently launched in South Australia. It is South Australia's first online register of Aboriginal businesses. It is designed to be a one-stop-shop for anyone looking to procure goods or services from local Aboriginal businesses.
Developed in partnership between the State Government and Supply Nation the register will increase the visability of local Aboriginal businesses.
The register can be found at: www.aboriginalbusinessconnect.com.au
Review of the Retail And Commercial Leases Act 1995
A review of the Retail and Commercial Leases Act 1995 (the Act) was completed in April 2016. Retired District Court Judge Alan Moss conducted the review (the Moss Review), which makes 20 recommendations on a broad range of issues relating to the Act.
The State Government is seeking responses from key stakeholders, industry groups and individuals before formalising its position on the recommendations set out in the Moss Review. Interested parties are invited to provide their views on the recommendations, and make any further comments or suggestions which they consider necessary or relevant.
Consultation is open for a period of three months. Submissions commenting on the Moss Review close on Friday 26 August 2016.
Submissions can be sent to:
The Office of the Small Business Commissioner
GPO Box 1264 ADELAIDE SA 5001
or submitted by email to: email@example.com
Any enquiries should be directed to (08) 8303 2026 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Submissions will be made public on the Small Business Commissioner’s website unless confidentiality is specifically requested.
The Moss Review dated 14 April 2016 can be found here and the Retail and Commercial Leases Act 1995 and Regulations can be found here.
View the Ministers News Release dated 24 May 2016 here
Whyalla Business Update – Arrium Administration
Working with Whyalla based small businesses affected by the appointment of administrators to Arrium has been a priority for the Small Business Commissioner during April and will continue.
The Commissioner has been working with more than 40 businesses who are suffering severe cash flow issues and providing advice to the Premier Hon Jay Weatherill, Treasurer Hon Tom Koutsantonis and Minister for Small Business Hon Martin Hamilton-Smith on specific options to assist small businesses.
The Commissioner has been closely involved in the development of a $10 million assistance package for small businesses which was announced by the State Government on 2nd May 2016. Further details of this package can be found here.
The Office of the Small Business Commissioner has engaged Thomson Geer partner Michael Barrett to provide legal advice to affected businesses on the impacts of the administration and actions which need to be taken. The Department of State Development has engaged Hood Sweeney to provide free financial counselling advice to affected businesses in another very positive initiative. Hood Sweeney Partner, Mr Soto Stuppos is based in Whyalla but the company is able to draw on its extensive SA resources if required to assist. Mr Stuppos can be contacted on 1300 764 200.
SA Health and Department of Communities and Social Inclusion are also working closely with the Small Business Commissioner to ensure that other support mechanisms are in place.
On Thursday 12 May 2016, the Small Business Commissioner will be convening an information forum in Whyalla with representatives from the Australian Taxation Office, RevenueSA and Fair Work Ombudsman to further assist businesses. The forum will be held at the Regional Development Australia, Whyalla and Eyre Peninsula Office, 127 Nicolson Avenue, Whyalla Norrie. Bookings are essential and can be made by clicking here.
The State Government has expressed strong commitment to businesses throughout Whyalla and the Commissioner appreciates the strong support he has received from the Whyalla City Council, Whyalla Chamber of Commerce and Regional Development Australia.
Further information on the Department of State Development’s Arrium response can be found here www.supportoursteel.com.
The Office of the Small Business Commissioner also provides a contact point for New Access – A Beyond Blue support program which offers six free coaching sessions. The free program is delivered by Uniting Care Wesley Port Adelaide and further details can be found at:
Save Your Retirement, from Scammers
Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) analysis of data reported to Scamwatch and the Australian Cybercrime Online Reporting Network (ACORN), together with losses detected through scam disruption work, estimates scam losses in excess of $229 million in 2015.
Adelaide Waste Management
The Small Business Commissioner is maintaining a close interest in a proposal by a number of Adelaide Councils to consolidate waste management under one contract.
The councils, through the vehicle Council Solutions, are seeking an authorisation from the ACCC to lock up all streams of waste management for more than 30 per cent of the metropolitan area for up to 17 years.
The Office of the Small Business Commissioner has been approached by both small and large waste industry operators expressing concern about the proposal and the potential negative impact on their businesses and the broader community.
The Commissioner has lodged a submission opposing the Council Solutions proposal and appeared at an ACCC conference of “interested parties” held in Adelaide to confirm his opposition.
The ACCC has now given Council Solutions until 30th May 2016 to provide additional information and undertake further consultation. The ACCC has indicated that it may not make a final determination until 23rd December 2016.
Interest-free loan scheme to support Whyalla businesses
The State Government announced the introduction of an interest-free loan scheme to support small businesses experiencing a cash-flow challenges as a result of Arrium entering administration.
Whyalla Business Update – Arrium Administration
The Small Business Commissioner, John Chapman, is assisting Whyalla businesses with various issues resulting from the Arrium administration.
For more information click here.
Businesses control own destiny
The economic path for SA is somewhat problematic with changes in manufacturing and the commodity price downturn, but there are many other opportunities for businesses to pursue.
Read full article here.
New shop front for Small Business
Minister for Small Business, Hon Martin Hamilton-Smith today announced the new shop front for the Office of the Small Business Commissioner.
New Minimum Payments Proposal Threatens Owner Drivers
The SA Small Business Commissioner has called on the Federal Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal to ditch a new minimum rates proposal which threatens to send small business owner drivers bankrupt.
The proposal by the Tribunal effectively sets a whole range of minimum rates for freight traffic and is due to come into effect on 4th April 2016.
Working With Skills Holdens Limited Event
South Australian small businesses have a unique opportunity to see firsthand the workplace skills of potential employees from the automotive sector at Holden’s Elizabeth plant next month.
The event, organised by the Office of the Small Business Commissioner aims to link small business owners with highly skilled individuals, who are looking for a new career, well before the Elizabeth manufacturing facility closes towards the end of 2017.
Retail and Commercial Leasing Guide
Minister for Small Business, Hon Martin Hamilton-Smith today launched the Office of the Small Business Commissioner Retail and Commercial Leasing Guide.
The Retail and Commercial Leasing Guide is a valuable resource for tenants and lessors of retail and commercial premises relating to the key issues surrounding entering a commercial and retail property lease.
View the guide here Retail and Commercial Leases Guide.
Read the News Relase.
A national award scheme that sends Australians from all walks of life overseas to explore a topic or issue of their choice wants more people from small business in South Australia to apply.
As part of a campaign celebrating its 50th anniversary, the Winston Churchill Memorial Trust of Australia is urging small business proprietors in South Australians to submit an application for a Churchill Fellowship.
Small Business Research at Flinders University
Professor John Spoehr (left) and Matt Sailer from Flinders University are making major inroads in bridging industry intelligence and research to improve productivity and development of small business in South Australia.
Professor Spoehr heads up the new Australian Industrial Transformation Institute and Mr Salier is the Director of the New Venture Institute, both based at the impressive new Flinders University facilities at Tonsley.
This morning Professor Spoehr introduced a panel discussion which featured first hand examples of how research and development out of the commercial arm of Flinders University has helped South Australian businesses such as Ferguson Australia (Premium seafood suppliers at www.fergusonaustralia.com) and Hegs Australia (check out the new revolution in clothes pegs at www. hegs.com) develop their products, identify new markets and grow their business.
Image: Professor John Spoehr and Mr Matt Sailer, Flinders University
New fund to assist Small Business
The State Government is continuing to put significant effort into reshaping the North of Adelaide with the impending closure of the automotive manufacturing sector.
Underpinning the approach is the Northern Economic Plan www.looknorth.com.au.
The role of small business in the plan is significant with a $10m Small Business Development Fund for northern Adelaide.
The State Government says feedback gathered through the Northern Economic Plan’s Community Engagement activities identified that the cost and loss of productivity arising from recruitment, hiring and training has been a deterrent in small businesses making a decision to hire an additional worker. This Fund would provide an incentive via a grant to small businesses for the creation of a new job. The program will commence in the middle of the year.
For more information contact Mr Alistair Taylor, A/Director Manufacturing and Small Business, Department of State Development on (08) 8303 2263
One of the barriers to successful exporting can be ensuring that a business has sufficient capital to finance its working capital needs.
Export Finance and Insurance Corporation (Efic), is a Federal Government owned organization, which works with financial institutions and companies to unlock finance for capital needs.
The criteria is relatively straight forward:
- Established track record
- Minimum finance requirement of A$100,000
- Unable to access finance from commercial banks
The process will involve Efic undertaking due diligence and the relevant credit approvals.
Efic can also support companies which are not directly exporting but rather involved in export related supply chains.
For more information visit www.efic.gov.au or in person Level 5, 131-139 Grenfell Street Adelaide or by phone Mr Andrew Perkins, Director SA (08) 7070 6862 or Mr Liam Carroll, Account Manager SA (08) 7070 6863.
Appointment of new Minister for Small Business
Minister Martin Hamilton-Smith MP appointed Minister for Small Business at the swearing in ceremony held on Tuesday 19 January and says he is looking forward to assisting the state's small business sector.
Penalties for misleading Small Businesses
The ACCC has reported that the Federal Court has ordered that Safety Compliance Pty Ltd (Safety Compliance) pay penalties totalling $515,000 for making false or misleading representations to small businesses in connection with the supply of safety wall charts and first aid kits.
Misuse of Market Power Consultation
Small business has an opportunity to comment on a new round of consultation on market power under the Competition and Consumer Act 2010.
The Federal Government has released a market power discussion paper which can be found here.
This round of consultation follows the release of the Harper Competition Policy Review which recommended the introduction of changes under an “effects” test which it argued would be more effective in bringing big businesses to account for bad behaviour.
Submissions are due by Friday 12 February 2015 and the Government has indicated it will announce a final position the following month.
While on the issue of market power, the ACCC which has responsibility for administration of the Competition and Consumer Act 2010, has launched proceedings against Woolworths alleging it engaged in unconscionable conduct in dealings with a large number of its supermarket suppliers.
This follows similar action which was successfully brought against Coles Supermarkets which led to refunds of $12 million to suppliers last year.
Business Start-up Grants
Adelaide City Council has initiated a Business Start-up Grant to encourage new small, innovative and diverse businesses to take up underutilised and vacant buildings in the city.
They are looking for ideas that re-use empty or underutilised buildings for either:
- Ground floor activation
- Basement activation
- Upper storey activation
If you are looking to start a new business in an underutilised or empty building in the city, you can apply to Adelaide City Council for grant funding of up to $30,000 to cover up to 50% of the cost to improve the building and start your business.
ACCC education campaign on new business-to-business unfair contract terms law
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission is urging businesses to closely review the standard form contracts they use when dealing with other businesses.
A new law will take effect on 12 November 2016, following a 12-month transition period, that offers small businesses protections against unfair contract terms offered by other (usually larger) firms.
New Venture Institute
Flinders University and its New Venture Institute are kicking goals for SA’s entrepreneurs.
Big awards night in Adelaide on Thursday 5 November with to celebrate the success of the latest entrepreneurial graduates.
Gold eNVIe winner was “Drones over the Water” project from Daniel Squires. His project is based on using drones cost effectively to take water samples in multiple locations and offers big possibilities for ensuring comprehensive water testing can take place in remote and difficult to reach locations as well as across large water expanses. His prize includes a $5000 travel scholarship to Austin in the United States.
Based at Tonsley, the NVI represents a key part of Flinders’ investment in the future of South Australia and is a place where collaboration, innovation and entrepreneurship combine to deliver solutions to real world problems.
Further info at http://nviflinders.com.au/
Image: Mr Nick Begakis AO, NVI Chairman, Mr Chris Picton MP, Member for Kaurna, Minister Zoe Bettison and Professor Colin Stirling, Vice Chancellor at Flinders Uni
ACCC Small Business and Franchising Consultative Committee
The ACCC’s Small Business and Franchising Consultative Committees were established to provide a forum through which competition and consumer protection concerns related to the small business and franchising sectors could be considered and addressed collaboratively.
Expressions of interest are currently being sought for appointment to these committees for 2016-17.
FWO, Spot checks for Adelaide businesses
The Fair Work Ombudsman will audit up to 125 businesses in Adelaide’s CBD and North Adelaide over the next three months as part of a new campaign.
Fair Work inspectors will check that employers are paying the correct minimum hourly rates, penalty rates, allowances, loadings and providing appropriate meal breaks.
First Time Entrepreneurs Wanted for Spark Program
Hub Australia are looking for people to be part of their Spark program which helps people looking for a bit of support on how to launch their idea or take their business to the next level!
Applications close soon.
New Laws for Unfair Contracts
New laws to help small business deal with unfair contracts are on the way with Minister for Small Business and Assistant Treasurer, the Hon Kelly O'Dwyer MP, announcing that the Federal Government has amended its original proposals to extend consumer unfair contract term protections to small businesses.
“These important changes will cover standard form contracts where at least one of the parties employs less than 20 people, and where the upfront price of the contract does not exceed $300,000 or $1 million for contracts longer than 12 months.
SA Small Business Commissioner John Chapman welcomed the amendments to extend the unfair contract provisions saying the original proposals for a limit of $100,000 on a contract or $250,000 for contracts greater than a year in duration did not go far enough and this office expressed its concerns to the Federal Government in this regard.
Support SA jobs and boost your chances of winning Govt work
The State Government today sent a clear message to companies wanting to win Government contracts - support South Australian jobs and you’ll increase your chances of success.
BizLink Seminar to be hosted in Berri
Riverland businesses will have an opportunity to seek information from a wide range of state
and federal government agencies at a BizLink seminar in Berri this month.
Industry Leaders Fund
The Industry Leaders Fund continues to kick huge goals in developing SA’s future business leaders.
Established in 2009 with a large endowment from the old Engineering Employers Association, the ILF has now awarded over $1m since 2010.
Individuals can apply for grants of up to $50,000 to support their leadership development.
Congratulations to Chairman Col Peters and the ILF Board and CEO Geoff Vogt on this week’s award event at the National Wine Centre where 21 grants totalling $235,000 were announced.
Further details of the program can be found at www.industryleaders.com.au
Investing in South Australia’s Small Businesses
The State Government wants to hear from everyday investors on whether they would consider investing their money in our State’s small to medium enterprises (SMEs).
As part of a Change@South Australia project, led by the Department of State Development, alternative finance options, such as crowdfunding and peer-to-peer lending, are currently being explored to help generate economic growth and create jobs for our State.
A recent survey by KPMG, indicated that a lack of local funding decisions and a lack of South Australian located or targeted funds, were the top two barriers for accessing capital for growth in South Australia. Alternative funding models can support our State’s economic priorities, and provide a sustainable source of capital for small business.
Australia is not at the forefront of the world in adopting alternative finance models.
The South Australian Government has the opportunity to play a role in the introduction of a shared economy platform that will unlock significant amounts of capital for South Australian SMEs.
Have your say by 2 October 2015 if you think alternative finance models could be a viable option for our State.
Food & Grocery Code of Conduct
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission is reminding grocery suppliers about new protections they have under the Food & Grocery Code of Conduct, which has rules about grocery supply agreements, payments, termination of agreements, dispute resolution and a range of other matters.
The voluntary code complements existing protections under the Competition and Consumer Act 2010, including the unconscionable conduct provisions.
ACCC has produced a short video to help explain the code, along with more infomration about the Code and a list of current signatories.
Industry Priority Qualification Survey
The Minister for Employment, Higher Education and Skills has requested that the independent Training and Skills Commission seek feedback from industry & business to identify their priority (VET) qualifications.
Businesses are invited to participate in the Industry Priority Qualification (IPQ) Survey which will help guide future public investment in training and skills development. This includes helping to inform future iterations of the Work Ready Subsidised Training List (STL).
The IPQ Survey can be completed from Wednesday 9 September - Friday 9 October 2015 at www.tasc.sa.gov.au/survey
Horticulture Code under review
An issues paper for the Horticulture Code Review has now been released with stakeholders asked to lodge any submissions by Friday 18th September 2015.
Further details can be found at Horticulture Code Review website
Small Business Tax Updates
The Australian Tax Office has a Small Business Newsroom which contains brief information on key issues which small business owners need to be aware of.
In the latest edition:
- A reminder for those in the building and construction industry that your 2015 Taxable payments annual report is due 28 August 2015
- Details of the $20,000 instant asset write off threshold
- Information on webinars for small business
- Information on new apps to help small business with ATO issues.
Further details can be found at: www.ato.gov.au/Newsroom/smallbusiness
Small Business in Focus
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has released its Small Business in Focus - 1 January - 30 June 2015 biannual report which provides a summary of the ACCC activities in the small business and franchising sectors and updates on industry codes.
Request for information from private Registered Training Organisations
The Office of the Small Business Commissioner is making inquiries into the impact of recent changes by the State Government to funding arrangements for Vocational Education and Training.
As a result, the Small Business Commissioner is seeking advice from private Registered Training Organisations (RTOs) on the impacts on their individual operations and actions which may eliminate or alleviate the effects of the recent changes.
The Small Business Commissioner has already commenced discussions with the Department of State Development.
Click here to go to the form which has been prepared for RTO input.
Any questions should be directed to the Office of the Small Business Commissioner on 08 8303 2026.
Small Business Fix-it Squads
A new suite of resources has been developed to help small business owners choose between operating as a sole trader or under a company business structure.
This joint-agency initiative involving the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC), Department of Industry and Science and Australian Taxation Office (ATO), was a result of Small Business Fix-it Squad recommendations.
Small Business Fix-it Squads are made up of small business owners working with federal, state and local government regulators to tackle the everyday issues of running a business.
The Department of Industry and Science will release new content on www.business.gov.au to help small business owners make informed decisions about which business structure is best for them.
Using tools like comparison tables, fact sheet summaries, key reminders and more, the suite explains:
- the key differences between operating as a sole trader and company
- how to change to a company business structure, and
- company director responsibilities.
By becoming more aware of their responsibilities under each structure, small business owners will save time and money, by focusing on their key compliance obligations and avoiding potential penalties and fines.
Small business owners can access these resources in one convenient location: www.business.gov.au/soletradertocompany
Another new product being delivered is ASIC's guide for small business directors. This guide is particularly useful for small businesses changing from a sole trader to a company business structure but can also help existing small business company directors.
All company directors, regardless of the size of their business, have duties and legal obligations. The new resources will help small businesses better understand these duties and what it means to be a company director. The guide can be accessed from the link above or directly from ASIC’s Small Business Hub at: www.asic.gov.au/small-business.
This suite of online resources is one of a number of successful projects the ATO-led, joint agency Small Business Fix-it Squads have initiated.
This particular suite of tools demonstrates the commitment by Australian Government agencies to working closely with small business and making it easier for them to run their operations.
Small Business/Individual Taxpayers
Australian Taxation Office
Review of the Building and Construction Industry Security of Payments Act 2009
In December 2014, the State Government commenced a review of the Building and Construction Industry Security of Payments Act 2009. The review was undertaken by former District and Youth Court Judge Alan Moss.
The review was tabled in State Parliament on 12 May 2015 and can be found here.
Ministerial Statement, Office of the Small Business Commissioner 2013-14 Annual Report
Minister Tom Koutsantonis, Minister for Small Business released a Ministerial Statement in relation to the Office of the Small Business Commissioner 2013-14 Annual Report
Australian Federal Police warn public of email Traffic Infringement scam
The Australian Federal Police (AFP) is urgently warning the public of an email scam currently circulating throughout Australia and internationally that requests payment for a bogus AFP Traffic Infringement Notice.
Draft Regulations – Fair Trading (Franchising Industry Dispute Resolution Code 2015 - Consultation
As part of the implementation of the Small Business Commissioner’s initiative, the development of Industry Codes of Conduct under the Fair Trading Act 1987 has been a high priority.
In developing the Industry Code Regulations under the Fair Trading Act 1987 the Government and Small Business Commissioner John Chapman and Deputy Small Business Commissioner Frank Zumbo have taken into account the initial feedback received from the discussions and initial consultations that the Small Businesses Commissioners have undertaken with regard to the development of the Code. It is clear from that feedback that there is significant support for the Industry Codes initiative.
If you require any further information or would like to arrange a briefing with the Small Business Commissioner please do not hesitate to contact the Office of the Small Business Commissioner on (08) 303 2026 or Toll-Free on 1800 072 722.
Unlocking Capital for Jobs
Does your business need extra capital to grow and your negotiations with your financial institution are proving difficult?
The SA Government may be able to assist with a national first $50 million program “Unlocking Capital for Jobs”.
It is an innovative new initiative to make it easier for business to secure commercially viable loans where firms would otherwise not have the balance sheet strength to access finance.
Further details can be found here
Child Safe Environments
New laws affecting organisations and individuals who provide services for children
From 11 April 2015, organisations providing cultural, party or entertainment services wholly or partly for children must provide a child safe environment. This includes:
- Having in place child safe policies and procedures
- Ensuring child-related employment screening is undertaken for positions prescribed in the Children’s Protection Act
- Lodging a Child Safe Environments Compliance Statement with the Department for Education and Child Development.
This is in addition to the service areas that are already covered by the Children’s Protection Act 1993.
Sole traders, people working in partnerships and responsible authorities of organisations will also be prohibited from performing child-related work unless they have obtained either a:
- child-related employment screening issued by the Department for Communities and Social Inclusion Screening Unit, or
- criminal history report from SA Police or a Crim-Trac accredited agency.
These individuals will also be required to provide evidence of their compliance with this requirement upon written request by a parent, guardian or carer.
The service areas covered are health, welfare, education, sporting or recreational, religious or spiritual, child care, cultural, entertainment, party or residential services that are provided wholly or partly for children.
BDO SA State Business Survey 2015 Results
BDO is committed to our small to medium enterprise clients (SME) and the wider SME community. We recognise that SMEs are the heart of the South Australian economy.
In February 2015 the state government released a ‘Your Say’’ discussion papers (Discussion Paper) to promote an informed debate on state taxation reform. Proposed reforms to the state taxation system are wide-reaching and broad. Many state taxation concepts noted in the discussion paper have the potential to significantly change the state taxation environment for small to medium enterprise (SME) in South Australia.
Through our 2015 State Business Survey, BDO is committed to engaging with SMEs to seek feedback and comment from the business community on proposed changes to state taxation measures. The survey received 250 respondents. The responses have provided insights into the state of South Australia’s small to medium business community and the necessary areas for reform to promote growth and support a more productive and efficient environment.
We have identified Payroll Tax as the state-based tax of most impact to business and have focused our analysis on this core taxation measure. Importantly, over 62% of South Australian SMEs surveyed would like to see an increase in GST, combined with meaningful decreases in state taxation. While a majority of businesses that support increasing the GST would like to see an increase of less than 5%, it is noteworthy that over 18% of business respondents would be happy with a GST increase of greater than 5%.
The concept of reducing overall state taxation in favour of increasing the GST is a real option for business.
Australian Tax Office
Let’s Talk!…about taking on an employee
Invitation to all Small Business owners to join our online consultation forum
Throughout March, we are hosting a conversation with interested small business owners on our online consultation forum: Let’s Talk.
We are keen to hear the experiences small business owners have had with taking on an employee, as well as ideas for improvements.
It’s quick and easy to register so you can share your experiences and see what others are saying about taking on employees.
Go Let’s Talk and then to the Small Business Fix-it Squad discussion.
Why are we having this conversation?
To improve the interactions that small business owners have with government agencies, the ATO is leading a cross-agency initiative called Small Business Fix-it Squads.
These squads are unique because small business owners and the different government agencies work together in a team to look at issues from the small business owner’s perspective – with a focus on identifying and reducing red tape.
Red tape includes processes that take up the valuable time of the small business owner. Red tape could be a complex or repetitive process, or the time taken to find government information (and understand it).
Go Let’s Talk and then to the Small Business Fix-it Squad discussion.
Interested in working with us in the future to improve ATO products and services?
Join our Small Business Consultation Panel
BizLink Seminars 2015
Small Business Commissioner, John Chapman announces plans for BizLink Seminars for 2015
New Small Business Commissioner
Small Business Minister Tom Koutsantonis announced that John Chapman has been appointed as the State's new Small Business Commissioner.
SCLAA Energy Efficiency Information Program and Awards 2014
The Supply Chain and Logistics Association of Australia (SCLAA) was the recipient of an energy efficiency information grant from the Australian Government, and is undertaking a national information program designed to help small to medium sized businesses in the Transport and Warehouse sectors better understand and manage their use of energy.
The SCLAA has created a website of information to help businesses understand where and how energy is used in their business and provide guidance and strategies to reduce energy use and stabilise operational costs. There are a number of resources and tools available on their website including Guides and information facts sheets to assist with data systems and management, identifying opportunities, evaluating opportunities and how to implement energy efficient measures within a business. Other tools include an Energy Saver Calculator to evaluate energy efficiency opportunities in your business and workshops and webinars to improve knowledge. Included are further resources and opportunities to explore in your sector. Visit the SCLAA national energy efficiency information program website at http://energy-efficiency.sclaa.com.au/home.
There are two workshops being held in South Australia to assist small to medium businesses. For dates and further information, download the following brochures. Register for this FREE event by Thursday 11 September, via email to email@example.com or call 1300 364 160.
17 September 2014 - Whyalla
Power your SME business into the future - Whyalla (570 kb, PDF)
18 Septembe 2014 - Adelaide
Power your SME business into the future - Adelaide (570 kb, PDF)
Australian Supply Chain & Logistics Award 2014
The SCLAA wants to recognise small and medium enterprises that are leading Australia in energy efficiency and will be awarding 8 Awards in 2014 - one from each State or Territory and the overall best will be awarded the National Award in November 2014. For further information on the selection criteria and the nomination form, please download the following brochure -
2014 Small - Medium Business Energy Efficiency Awards (530 kb, PDF)
Nominations close on Friday 24 October 2014.
“Unfair Contract Terms” Consultation Paper
The Commonwealth Government has released a Discussion Paper on extending unfair contract term protections to small business, and is seeking submissions by 1 August 2014.
There are three ways for you to get involved and have your say about the extension of protection against unfair contract terms to small business:-
1. Make a formal submission on the consultation paper.
2. Submit a brief comment on your experience with unfair contract terms.
3. Undertake a 10-15 minute survey on your experience with business contracts.
A copy of the Discussion Paper is available here.
Review of the Retail and Commerical Leases and Building and Construction Industry Security of Payments Acts
The State Government is reviewing the above Acts which are committed to the Minister for Small Business, Hon. Tom Koutsantonis MP.
The Small Business Commissioner is responsible for the administration of the Acts. The reviews are being undertaken by Mr Alan Moss – a former Deputy Crown Solicitor, Chief Magistrate, District Court and Youth Court Judge.
The Government is calling for submissions from interested parties and stakeholders and written submissions should be forwarded to:
The Office of the Small Business Commissioner
GPO Box 1264
ADELAIDE SA 5001
Closing date for submissions is Friday 13th February 2015
Any inquiries should be directed to (08) 8303 2026 or 1800 072 722
Brief Issues Papers can be found:
WHS Codes of Practice
The Work Health and Safety Act 2012 (SA) commenced operation in South Australia on 1 January 2013.
During the debate on the above legislation in the Legislative Council last year, the Hon. John Darley MLC successfully introduced a number of amendments. One of those amendments included a statutory role for the Small Business Commissioner to be consulted and to assess whether or how a Code would affect small business.
The Small Business Commissioner provided the Minister for Industrial Relations advice and feedback on the 12 draft Codes that were issued earlier this year.
A copy of this advice can be downloaded here
- WHS Codes of Practice (110 kb, PDF)
Launch of Farming Code of Conduct at Royal Show
On the morning of 11 September 2013 the Minister for Small Business, the Hon Tom Kenyon MP, Small Business Commissioner, Mike Sinkunas and Deputy Small Business Commissioner, Frank Zumbo officially launched the Farming Code of Conduct at the Royal Show.
“The Farming Code of Conduct, the first of its type in Australia gives primary producers direct access to a mandatory dispute resolution process, which will allow disputes to be handled in a timely and effective way, as well as providing the greatest potential for resolution without the need for litigation. Importantly, the Code will be backed by financial penalties, giving it real teeth,” Mr Kenyon said.
Since commencing in March 2012 the Office of the Small Business Commissioner has been contacted by over 300 farmers seeking advice and assistance on a range of issues including farm machinery, banking and financial matters, water allocation, licensing and non-payment for goods and services. The Farming Code of Conduct will assist farmers by providing an alternative dispute resolution service which includes mandatory mediation.
Consultation with the farming industry was sought by Minister Kenyon. Feedback and comments closed 11 October 2013.
Written Submissions for Inset Electricity Networks Due
Written submissions to the Office of the Small Business Commissioner regarding Inset (or Embedded) Electricity Networks are due by COB 21 February 2013.
SUBMISSIONS ARE NOW CLOSED
Inquiry into Inset (or Embedded) Electricity Networks - Terms of Reference
The objective of the Inquiry is to gain a clear understanding of the ways in which inset or embedded electricity networks operate in the following three areas:
- Shopping Centres;
- Office or Commercial buildings; and
- Industrial parks.
Caravan parks will not fall within the scope of this Inquiry, because they generally operate in a non-business consumer to business context.
The Inquiry will examine and prepare a report for the Minister for Small Business outlining:
- Pricing arrangements currently in place for different inset networks and for different inset customers;
- Methodology employed by inset operators to determine pricing of electricity delivered through their inset network;
- Ability for inset customers to purchase electricity from providers other than the operator of the inset network; and
- Recommendations to ensure transparency and fairness of electricity reselling in this area.
The Inquiry will consult widely with inset network operators and inset customers within a business to small business context. The Inquiry will also liaise with the Essential Services Commission of South Australia.
Initially, information will be sought from inset network operators and inset customers initially on a cooperative and voluntary basis. Where necessary, for the purposes of the Inquiry, the Small Business Commissioner may formally require a person to provide information in accordance with his powers under the Small Business Commissioner Act 2011.
The Small Business Commissioner will endeavour to maintain the confidentiality of information received and will treat all information provided to the Inquiry sensitively, subject to and in accordance with relevant legal requirements. The Small Business Commissioner Act 2011 creates a criminal offence for the unauthorised disclosure of information obtained in the course of the Inquiry.
Update on the Retail Shop Leases Fund under the Retail and Commercial Leases Act 1995
The administration of the Retail and Commercial Leases Act 1995 was transferred to the Small Business Commissioner earlier this year.
As part of this change the management of the Retail Shop Leases Fund has been moved from Consumer and Business Services to the Office of the Small Business Commissioner. This has occurred progressively in order to have a seamless transition. This transition is now being finalised and the Small Business Commissioner can advise the following:
- New facilities are available for Direct Debit Requests (DDR) for Bond lodgements and Electronic Funds Transfer (EFT) for Bond refunds. The Small Business Commissioner encourages the utilisation of these methods. All cheques for Retail and Commercial Bonds are required to written to the Retail Shop Leases Fund.
- New Retail and Commercial tenancies forms for Lessees, Lessors and Agents are now available to download from the Retail Bonds page on this site.
For any Retail and Commercial Bond enquiries, please contact the Office of the Small Business Commissioner on Toll Free 1800 072 722 or 8303 2026 or via the enquiry form on the website.