Queensland small business champion Maree Adshead has been appointed as temporary small business commissioner by the Queensland government.
The role is designed to give Queensland SMEs a single point of contact for commercial leasing disputes during recovery from the COVID-19 impact.
Minister for Employment and Small Business Shannon Fentiman said the role was set to last until the end of 2020.
“Our thousands of small businesses are struggling due to the COVID-19 crisis, and now more than ever they need assistance,” Ms Fentiman said.
“We know that dispute resolution can come at a significant cost for small-business owners in terms of legal services, time away from their business, lost productivity and income, as well as additional expenses and stress.
“The commissioner’s role will meet the needs of small business and provide them with valuable advice and assistance in relation to resolving disputes.
“Establishing a single point of contact for small businesses handling leasing disputes will result in time, money and resource savings for business owners and government.”
Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman Kate Carnell welcomed the appointment and said Ms Adshead is “certainly the right person for this important job”.
“Many small businesses are reaching out for assistance with disputes over commercial lease arrangements because of the financial hardship they are experiencing during this difficult time,” Ms Carnell said.
“By creating this role, small businesses in Queensland will have the support they need to negotiate a fair outcome with their landlord, under the guidance of the Mandatory Commercial Tenancy Code of Conduct.
“It’s vital, especially in this time of crisis, there is a full-time small business commissioner with the necessary powers to meet the needs of small businesses.”
Ms Carnell highlighted the benefits of alternative dispute resolution, and said she believes the Queensland government should look to extend the commissioner role beyond 2020.
“While this small business commissioner role is only temporarily in place for the remainder of the year, my office believes there is good reason to make this an ongoing service to the small-business community in Queensland,” Ms Carnell said.
“In the meantime, we congratulate Maree Adshead on taking this role in the interim.”