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Coalition starts to deliver: franchising, the ATO and unfair contracts

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

2014 saw a raft of commitments and undertakings from the Coalition on policies affecting small business and independent contractors. Commitments are fine, but it’s delivery that matters. So it was heartening to see some action in early January—notably with the new franchising code. The Western Australian Council of Small Business (COSBA) was quick to congratulate Minister Bruce Billson on bringing in the new franchise code. ICA agrees with COSBA that this is a hugely important reform that will give thousands of small business franchisees a better deal.

Minister Billson replied to COSBA explaining the new code. He also released a statement listing what the Abbott government had done in 2014 on the small business front. It's an interesting list.

What really excites ICA's interest, however, are the Minister's undertakings for action in 2015 in relation to the Australian Taxation Office and fair contract laws. Bruce said:
 “I am concerned about ATO over-reach in its interpretation, the resulting denial of ABNs, tax office guidance tools not accurately reflecting accepted common and statute law interpretations…”
Amen to that! We’ve been agitating against the ATO on this for a long time. Last year we said:
“In fact, ICA claims that the ATO is acting outside of its legislative authority in having such a tool. Originally the ‘tool’ was designed and intended as an advisory process. However, it has become the instrument by which the ATO decides who is and who is not allocated an Australian Business Number (ABN).
We’ll be extremely pleased to see this fixed.

The Minister also said:
“I will also be finalizing the implementation of our election commitments to extend ‘unfair contracts terms’ protection to small business…”

We look forward to this, too. We see this reform as one of the most important developments for small business people in several decades.


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