Ex-Small Business CEO Says Governments Must Listen To Those They Affect

Peter Strong ran the Council of Small Business Organisations of Australia.

PETER Strong was CEO of the Council of Small Business Organisations of Australia (COSBOA) for eleven years, and is well aware of the need for governments to consult directly with those whom their legislation will affect.

Mr Strong, who appears on ABC television’s The Drum and was published this week in the Financial Review,
told News Of The Area his experience with the small business community will result in him voting ‘Yes’ in the upcoming referendum about the Voice to Parliament.

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“When I took over the job as CEO of the Council of Small Business Organisations of Australia in 2010, one thing I noted was that the peak bodies were often the only groups consulted about what small business people needed on specific policies,” Mr Strong told NOTA.

“But these peak bodies didn’t always know what was needed or honestly represent the sector.”

Mr Strong said sometimes the economic ideology or political party connections of peak bodies influenced their opinions, to the detriment of small business operators.

“One thing I did was stress, time and time again, that governments and policymakers need to consult with those affected in the various industry sectors, through COSBOA,” Mr Strong said.

“We would then ensure that those most impacted by the proposed policy would get to have a say.”

For example, he would make sure the associations who represented small businesses in the finance sector were consulted on finance issues, or the Australian Hairdressing Council and other beauty associations were contacted if legislation might affect them.

He said COSBOA became a true voice of small business people because it consulted widely and ensured those who knew best were heard and heeded.

“COSBOA was the voice of small business because we connected with the various sectors – we were the conduit for governments to get the real facts.”

He said there are many examples of peak bodies claiming to represent small business who then, behind closed doors, do the opposite, or ignore compelling issues that needed to be addressed because of their political affiliations.

“The Indigenous Voice is about ensuring Indigenous issues are heard from a truly representative group,” Mr Strong said.

“If it’s good enough for the small business community to be properly and inclusively listened to, then it’s good enough for every group.

“That’s why I’m voting ‘YES’.”

By Andrew VIVIAN

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