The Federal Small Business Ombudsman is conducting a review into how the Commonwealth government behaves when it buys goods and services from small businesses. We’ve made a submission. Our submission is titled ‘The gander should be required to do what the goose is required to do’.
Specifically, we think it’s crazy that it’s not illegal for government departments to have unfair contracts with small business people. But it is illegal for private businesses to have unfair contracts with small businesses. Talk about double standards!
We’re asking the Federal Small Business Ombudsman to recommend that this be fixed. And we’ve suggested the exact amendment to the competition laws that would do this. The amendment would read:
Application of Act to Commonwealth and Commonwealth authorities
(1) Subject to this section and sections 44AC, 44E and 95D, this Act binds the Crown in right of the Commonwealth in relation to the unfair contract provisions of the Act in so far as the Crown in right of the Commonwealth engages in trade or commerce, either directly or by an authority of the Commonwealth with a small business.
This is similar to what we’re asking of Senators in our campaign requesting the defeat of the ‘employee-like’ provisions of the government’s new ‘spaghetti bowl’ industrial relations laws. We want more protections for self-employed small business people. And having government departments required to comply with unfair contract laws is one of those much-needed protections.
These unfair contract laws will have real ‘teeth’ when the ‘beefed up’ legislation takes effect in November this year. Our submission has a summary of what ‘unfair’ means and what the new ‘teeth’ are.
Frankly, government needs to stop treating the rest of us in the community as a gaggle of geese!