Changes to the Small Business Development Corporation Act 1983 to boost the powers of the Small Business Commissioner were tabled in State Parliament today by Small Business Minister Paul Papalia.
The reforms will underpin the establishment of a specialised investigations and inquiry unit within the Small Business Development Commission (SBDC) aimed at improving corporate and government behaviour and removing unfair practices.
The unit will support the Small Business Commissioner to exercise new legislative powers, including compelling head contractors for State Government projects to prove payments to subcontractors and influencing change in government procurement of head contractors.
The Commissioner will also be able to shield subcontractors from retribution for lodging complaints by protecting their identity, and make recommendations to Government on their findings, including potential sanctions and improvements to Government policy.
The Bill will expand the Commissioner’s current investigative and reporting functions to consider the actions of the private sector, local government and State Government that affect the commercial activity of small business.
As stated by Small Business Minister Paul Papalia:
“This Bill represents decades of work industry stakeholders and the Small Business Development Corporation, who have pushed relentlessly for justice for subcontractors.
“Although these changes come too late to help subcontractors like Max Hannah, who as my constituent lost his livelihood twice over, I hope they will prevent such great and devastating loss again.
“While the initial focus of the amendment Bill will be on the construction industry, the Small Business Commissioner will also be empowered to investigate other sectors where behaviour is negatively impacting on small business, such as the retail sector.
“The focus of the Corporation is to maintain strong, positive working relationships for business in WA, and that will continue to be their primary objective. I do hope resolutions are able to be reached prior to any serious investigation by the Commissioner.”