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Garland takes on second SBDC term

JOHN Garland International principal John Garland has been reappointed chairman of the Small Business Development Corpora-tion for another two years.

Mr Garland has already served as SBDC chairman for five years after which time a new chairman would normally be appointed.

However, Small Business Mini-ster Hendy Cowan asked him to stay on to help guide the organisation through some of the toughest times to ever face small business.

Mr Garland said the SBDC currently had a strong team and he thought the Minister was against “changing horses in mid-stream”.

Small businesses now have to deal with the change to Australia’s taxation system, the growth of electronic commerce and the Y2K problem.

Mr Garland said the SBDC had to help small businesses ensure they gained more benefits than problems from the new tax system.

To this end, the SBDC is forming a tax referral centre with an Australian Tax Office officer and Australian Society of Certified Practising Accountants and Insti-tute of Chartered Accountants of Australia members on its premises.

“This is now being looked upon by other states as a leading initiative,” Mr Garland said.

“It follows on from WA being the only state that has an ATO officer on SBDC premises.”

In fact, WA is the only state to have a dedicated small business body such as the SBDC. In other states this role is taken on by parts of government departments.

Beyond helping small businesses negotiate the trying times ahead, Mr Garland believes the SBDC needs to lead the way in cutting duplication of services.

“We want to bring the chambers of commerce and their networks much closer to the SBDC’s desires,” he said.

“We want to bring the mindsets of government bodies closer to the real world and its daily problems.”

Ironically, Mr Garland was not expecting his reappointment and had accepted directorships on other boards.

“There was even a farewell dinner planned for me at Parliament House,” he said.

“I’d been out with [SBDC managing director] George Etrelezis interviewing for my replacement.

Mr Garland began with the SBDC at Mr Cowan’s request.

“He wanted someone that had been at the coal face of small business and had chaired other organisations,” he said.

Mr Garland’s property business is a micro one run by himself, his son and his daughter. He has also chaired organisations such as the Rotary Club.

Mr Garland said he devoted a third of his time to the SBDC and other interests such as Rotary and the Real Estate Institute of WA.

“Like any other person in business you put in the hours and don’t care what day of the week it is,” he said. “I actually work longer hours on Saturdays and Sundays.”

Mr Garland said WA overserviced in many areas, particularly in real estate and service industries.

“If you ever want to see competition at its highest level you’ll see it in WA,” he said. “If you can survive in WA you can survive anywhere.”

Mr Garland said WA’s intense competition meant local business people had little time for corporate politics.

“If an eastern states company is having management problems, they usually bring in a Western Australian to sort them out,” he said. “While we’re more competitive, we play it cleaner.”

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