Australia’s first small business ombudsman appointed

Posted by AFN Staff Writers on 1st February 2016

The former CEO of the Australian Food and Grocery Council, Kate Carnell, will be Australia’s first small business ombudsman.


Carnell was CEO of the Australian Food and Grocery Council between 2008 and 2012. More recently she has served as the head of the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCCI) since 2014. She will step down from this role effective immediately and prepare to start her ombudsman role on 11 March 2016. It has not yet been revealed where Carnell will perform the role.


As the small business ombudsman Carnell says she will be an advocate for small to medium sized businesses in Australia. She will also be a liaison between representative bodies like the ACCCI and the Council of Small Business Australia (COSBOA).


CEO of COSBOA Peter Strong today said he welcomed the news of the appointment.


“COSBOA has been calling for an Ombudsman for our sector since 1977 when our association was first formed by concerned small business supporters,” said Strong.


“No other group has called for such a position until more recent years so it seems that patience pays off. Kate Carnell is a great selection,” he stated.


Carnell supports the “effects test”


Online publisher SmartCompany today reported that Carnell is a supporter of the proposed “effects test”.


The effects test relates to proposed changes related to Section 46 of the Competition and Consumer Act which currently deals with misuse of market power by big businesses acting alone. As presently stands, Section 46 stipulates that to be found guilty of misuse of power, a business must have ‘substantive market power’ and intended to and acted in a way that misused its power in an anti-competitive manner.


By contrast, if an “effects test” is used instead, the ACCC would only have to prove the large business acted in an anti-competitive manner, but would not have to prove the large business had the intention to misuse market power.