In a discussion paper released April 30, Treasury has outlined four key responsibilities that the ombudsman will be charged with:
• concierge for dispute resolution;
• Commonwealth-wide advocate for small businesses and family enterprises;
• contributor to the development of small business-friendly Commonwealth laws and regulations; and
• single entry-point agency through which Commonwealth assistance and information regarding small business can be accessed.
Treasury said it is seeking input on the nature and scope of these four responsibilities and how to best provide the ombudsman with appropriate powers to deliver real benefits to Australian small businesses.
In a foreword to the discussion paper, the minister for small business, Bruce Bilson, said “to make a real difference, the role needs real power and real teeth to drive change and to be a genuine independent advocate for small business”.
The discussion paper includes options for the scope of the ombudsman’s functions and powers, and seeks to identify possible areas of duplication, gaps or alignment with services and functions that are delivered through other government or industry bodies or private providers.
Closing date for submissions is May 23.