ACCC targets small business

SMALL business operators are the latest target for the Australian Consumer and Competition Commission.

The ACCC has developed a small business program to inform small business operators of their rights and obligations under the Trade Practices Act and the new Franchise Code of Conduct.

Siobhan O’Gara is the ACCC’s small business officer in WA. The commission has placed an officer in each Australian capital city.

Ms O’Gara, formerly of the Small Business Development Corporation, works with that organisation and the small business agencies of the Australian Tax Office, the Australian Securities and Investments Commission, the Ministry of Fair Trading, chambers of commerce, ethnic business organisations and TAFE colleges to spread her message.

Her goal is to contact with as many small businesses in WA as possible and make them aware of their rights and obligations under the Trade Practices Act.

“The ACCC does not have a high profile in the small business community,” Ms O’Gara said. “There is help there — an avenue for small business. I provide help by way of education, information and liaison.

“Once any organisation — big or small — is told of its rights and obligations it becomes more aware of the situation. It makes sure that its acts and conduct comply with the law.”

She said the Federal Government’s fair deal for small business package gave the ACCC an avenue to protect small business from unconscionable conduct.

“I act as a conduit to the enforcement side of the ACCC. I’ve not been needed yet but perhaps people are not aware a liaison officer can help them.”

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