ASBFEO supports 'super-complaints' proposal announced by Labor
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.
The Labor party announced that, if elected, it will allow recognised consumer and small business advocacy groups the power to make ‘super-complaints’ to the consumer and competition watchdog. The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) would be obliged to investigate and publicly respond to such complaints, it said in a statement.
"A ‘super-complaints’ function would allow advocacy bodies, such as ourselves, to put forward and fast-track investigations by the 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 time frame 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," Ms Carnell said.
"This would provide much better visibility to the business community of bad behaviour and regulator scrutiny."
She explained that in August last year, the ASBFEO 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," Ms Carnell added.
Instead of government deciding what is best for small businesses, Ms Carnell believes the proposal would allow a 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," she concluded.