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Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman

An alliance of small business organisations is being formed to present a united front on policy issues of mutual interest.

The Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman, Kate Carnell, says the group will consider making joint submissions on the Federal Budget and other consultations.

“The small business sector is fragmented to some degree along state and industry lines,” Ms Carnell said.

“Different organisations and states sometimes have different issues they want to push with governments.

“There are also common issues which don’t always get presented strongly enough because of the fragmentation.”

Ms Carnell said her office hosted a policy forum with representative organisations to discuss a united approach on matters where there is broad agreement.

These included the complexity of workplace relations, human capital (skills shortages, skills training and immigration), energy costs and supply, access to justice, NBN and cyber security.

Working groups are being established to develop common policy before Budget submissions.

Citing energy as an example, Ms Carnell said reliable supply and fair pricing were vital for small business success.

“The complexity of energy plans and prices means many small businesses lack understanding of the market and experiences vary greatly across the country,” she said.

“The media and political focus is on alleviating price pain for household consumers, which leaves small business vulnerable to price gouging by electricity retailers.

“The working groups will inform submissions to potential future inquiries and advocate for better consideration of small businesses in the economy.”

The ASBFEO is also establishing a small business hub in Canberra, where representative organisations can access office accommodation and facilities to undertake business in the capital.

Small business organisations interested in the policy forum or the Canberra hub can call ASBFEO on 1300 650 460.

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