08 February 2019
Bring on 'super-complaints' says Ombudsman
The Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman, Kate Carnell has voiced support for the ‘super-complaints’ proposal announced by Shadow Assistant Treasurer Andrew Leigh.
“A ‘super-complaints’ function would allow advocacy bodies, such as ourselves, to put forward and fast-track investigations by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) into key small business concerns, such as dishonest industry conduct or misconduct by an entity impacting many small businesses,” Ms Carnell said.
“The ACCC would be obliged to examine a particular concern within a limited timeframe and then publicly respond to the complaint, including its proposed actions.
“We have a couple of major small business issues currently with the ACCC that could be dealt with as part of a ‘super-complaints’ function now, if it were operational.
“This would provide much better visibility to the business community of bad behaviour and regulator scrutiny.
“For example, in August last year we brought to the attention of the ACCC a number of serious issues regarding business equipment contracts and practices that are harming small businesses across Australia.
“Having this on the public record together with proposed ACCC approaches would improve outcomes.
“Similarly this would support our management of disputes under the Franchising, Horticulture and Oil Codes, where we identify poor behaviour.
“Instead of government deciding what is best for small businesses, the proposal would allow business itself to elevate its concerns to the highest levels.
“A ‘super-complaints’ policy could be a game changer in getting action on the issues that matter most to Australian small businesses.”