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Coalition is breaking key small business promise

Wednesday, September 02, 2015

Politics works like this. You make big election promises. Then, once in government, appear to deliver the promises. But in the detail kill off the promise. The suckers in the electorate won’t notice!

That’s the situation with the Coalition’s key promise to small business people to extend consumer unfair contract protections to them. We expressed our shock last week.

Grace Collier in The Weekend Australian explained “This bill was supposed to extend some basic rules about commercial contracts (for small businesses) … the government put an exemption in, which pretty much exempts everyone and makes the bill meaningless.”

The story gets bigger.

On Monday, ABC Four Corners exposed wages fraud of workers done with the ‘complicit knowledge’ of 7-Eleven head office. This involves false records and blackmail according to Four Corners.

Former competition watchdog Allan Fels slammed the 7-Eleven franchise model, saying it forces franchisees to cut costs.

If the unfair contract laws were to apply to small business, 7-Eleven would be forced to substantially fix its franchise contracts. The Franchise Council opposes the new laws. Until a few days ago the Chair of the Franchise Council was the CEO of 7-Eleven. Funny how he’s suddenly ‘disappeared’ from their website!

Robert Gottliebsen in Business Spectator today explains the bad handling of this by the government:
“…the employment/visa mess at 7-Eleven fills an important part of the small business jigsaw… We really now have a much better picture of the disastrous consequences to Australia of the government’s decision to break its small business promises....

Former ACCC chief Allan Fels got it right …The 7-Eleven contracts, are simply standard contracts that franchisees are not allowed to negotiate…

A lynch pin of Tony Abbott’s 2013 election campaign was that he would introduce legislation to make standard, non-negotiated contracts fair to the small business person. But his government … is putting through legislation that protects absolutely no one.

When I wrote about the government’s unfair contracts promise breach Small Business Minister Bruce Billson came back to me with a verbal haranguing. After Grace Collier’s similar material in The Weekend Australian, Bruce sent her an email that was pure vitriol and again contained no facts.”
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