HAYNE: ‘NO’ TO SME REFORM: The feedback on the Hayne Royal Commission form key small business organisations reported by SmartCompany 5.2.19, is that he “did not go far enough/disappointed” and “10% change, 90% continue as you were.” And, despite Small business ombudsman Kate Carnell calling (The Australian, 31.1.19) on “the Hayne royal commission, policymakers and regulators to work harder to get small and medium business on a firmer footing against the banks or risk a “credit squeeze” in the $300 billion sector.” I did not happen!

Carnell said Hayne did not go far enough: “The disappointment is for all those small businesses that lobbied hard to get a royal commission, they will feel disappointed,” she tells SmartCompany “I’m disappointed that he fundamentally said the code is a source of justice, that it should be enforceable, but then did not take the next step … the problem is the code in its current form is not up to speed.”

Council of Small Businesses of Australia (COSBOA) CEO Peter Strong “graded the report as “10% change, 90% continue as you were”. “The report is surprising in its lack of anything groundbreaking . . .” he says. SmartCompany, 5.2.19.

A “wet lettuce” result for small business!

What the royal commission did highlight was the arrogance and elitism of the biggest institutions in the banking and superannuation systems which caused severe and unnecessary pain on a small but still significant number of innocent people.

NEW DEFINITION FOR SMALL BUSINESS: One of the few changes to the current regulatory framework Hayne did recommend was amending the definition of small business in the new Banking Code of Practice.

Under the current code, there is a three-part test for determining a small-business client: annual turnover of less than $10 million, fewer than 100 full-time equivalent employees, and less than $3 million in total debt to all credit providers.

Hayne, agreeing with a previous review of the code, said this should be simplified to those businesses which employ less than 100 full-time equivalent employees and where a loan is for less than $5 million.

Hayne said this would extend the coverage of banking code provisions to another 10,000 to 20,000 firms.

This was a change that was recommended by small-business advocates including ASBFEO and opposed by the banks. SmartCompany, 5.2.19

JUVENILES BEYOND THE LAW: An article published in the 4 February 2019 edition of The West Australian newspaper under the heading ‘Ratbags are turning my dream into nightmare: Perth shopkeeper’ highlights juveniles running amok out of the reach of the law causing major problems for small business owners with impunity.

The report states in part: “Many of the incidents involved children and teenagers, in some cases with adults encouraging them. Police say they were investigating the reports and had reviewed CCTV vision but were yet to lay any charges.

“It comes just weeks after the 41-year-old owner of Kelmscott IGA X-press was charged with common assault and deprivation of liberty over his attempt to detain a nine-year-old thief in a backroom after he caught him stealing a bottle of Coca-Cola. Police were also investigating a violent mob who ransacked the Kelmscott store just minutes later in retaliation, demanding the boy be released.

“Mr Patlolls said “This shoplifting is out of control and the police think it’s too petty for them to look into,”

It is understandable that the police “investigate” and lay no charges when there is a total absence of effective laws to enable them to do so, or laws that prevent them from doing so.

This untenable situation is a gross indictment on the Government, and we urge urgent steps be taken to bring this situation within the law to protect small business from this totally unacceptable carnage.

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