Notwithstanding the disastrous week’s ending for the commencement of the 45th Parliament we see reports of two initiatives that would greatly benefit small business, both of which CoSBA would support without reservation.

The Australian, September 1, 2016, reports: Australia’s biggest banks will be hauled before another inquiry into the financial sector as the Turnbull government attempts to head off Labor’s calls for a royal commission.

The government has ordered a “forensic” examination of the banks’ treatment of small business customers, instructing the Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman [Kate Carnell] to use royal commission powers in new hearings aimed at gathering evidence of misconduct.

Following a parliamentary inquiry and calls from government MPs for tougher action, Small Business Minister Michael McCormack has asked the Ombudsman to determine what more needs to be done in response to community concerns.”

And The Australian, 2 September also reports: Ms Carnell said a range of issues could be fixed to level the playing field between banks and customers.

She is due to provide interim findings to the Ramsay review before handing over a final report to the government in 12 weeks.”

And The Australian, 1 September also reports: The small-business lobby has called for a Senate inquiry into controversial pay deals between major retailers and the shop assistants union, as the union conceded wage agreements with KFC and Hungry Jack’s would no longer get the approval of the Fair Work Commission.

The Council of Small Business Australia will write to the ­Coalition, ALP, the Greens and Senate crossbenchers seeking an inquiry into agreements struck ­between the Shop, Distributive and Allied, Employees Association and Coles and Woolworths.

Council chief executive Peter Strong accused major retailers and the SDA of exploiting the workplace relations system to get ­approval of agreements that left workers employed on weekends worse off.”

SmartCompany, August 29, 2016 reports that, as of yesterday “The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission will begin enforcing a ban on excessive credit card surcharges from Thursday – and while the rules won’t apply to smaller operators until 2017, there are things all business owners can do now to prepare themselves.

Small business should take the time to review their current payment processes now to work out what can and can’t be included in surcharges from September next year. By 2017 all banks should be in the rhythm of providing statements as a starting point for calculating the fees.

Before the rules become binding for small business, owners and operators should work out:

  • The merchant service fees and rental fees for payment processing hardware
  • Any fraud prevention fees paid to an external provider that relate to a specific card type
  • Any other gateway fees paid”

On 9 August 2016, the WA Small Business Minister and the Local Government Minister announced a new initiative to build stronger relationship between small business and local governments which are effectively engaging and supporting their small business community will be recognised under a new initiative.

“With more than 214,000 small businesses in WA, the sector is a significant contributor to the economy,” Mr L’Estrange said. “The Small Business Friendly Local Governments initiative will focus on encouraging local governments to work more closely with business owners to support economic development in local communities throughout the State.”

The Small Business Development Corporation will see participating local governments sign a Charter that incorporates key commitments to their small business community, including the reduction of red tape, making on-time payments to suppliers and having a plan to manage resolution of disputes.”

This is a significant initiative which will no doubt be most welcomed by small businesses throughout the state and we commend the Ministers for implementing.

Perth internnet speed is in the slow lane reports The West Australian, August 31, 2016: Perth is officially Australia’s broadband wasteland, with download tests confirming WA’s capital has the nation’s slowest internet speed . . . In a result slated by the business community, Perth is space ages behind Canberra, Australia’s fastest capital city . . . Perth’s figure is slower than Indonesia’s average download speed and well below Australia’s national average.

“WA Chamber of Commerce and Industry chief executive Deidre Willmott said internet reliability was a major issue for WA business. She said surveys showed broadband capabilities across WA, not just Perth, had long been ranked as some of the worst in the country.

“Former Labor MP Alannah MacTiernan, an outspoken critic of the quality of Perth’s internet, said the result came as no surprise. And this is not just about downloading movies — internet speed is critical for business productivity and has a huge impact on families.”

Given that small businesses are heavily reliant on the internet for their day to day business transactions and operations, CoSBA calls on our politicians, both State and Federal, to rectify this untenable situation as a matter of urgency.