Page 395 - Week 02 - Tuesday, 15 February 2005

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MR QUINLAN: Those members who were here during the last Assembly will recall that that Assembly passed legislation—by a majority, I might add—to create the statutory position of Small Business Commissioner, with responsibility for five key areas; namely, enhancing business-to-government relationships, dispute mediation, investigatory functions, regulatory review and advisory functions. It is my great pleasure to announce the appointment of Professor Michael Schaper as the inaugural Small Business Commissioner.

Mrs Dunne: We have read the press release.

MR QUINLAN: That’s okay. I just want those who might have missed it to understand as well. Professor Schaper brings a wealth of experience in both public and private sectors to the role. He has held the chair in entrepreneurship and small business with the Graduate School of Business at the University of Newcastle. He has been a senior lecturer and director of the entrepreneurship degree program within the School of Management at Curtin University in Western Australia.

He has been the national vice-president of the Small Enterprise Association of Australia and New Zealand and he has been the deputy chairperson of the Fremantle business incubator in Western Australia. He spent several years as a professional small business adviser. He ran his own business and was involved in numerous other start-up projects.

He spent several years working as a ministerial adviser at the state and federal levels, acting as a policy adviser, speechwriter and consultant to numerous cabinet ministers and members of parliament. He was a member of the Senate of the University of Western Australia for three years. He has a PhD and a Master of Commerce degree from Curtin University, as well as a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Western Australia.

It is most important for members to appreciate that the Small Business Commissioner will be an independent voice and will be developing, within the framework of the legislation, his own program. It is a statutory appointment and I have the greatest confidence that Professor Schaper will make a very solid contribution to the government’s objective of being the most small business friendly constituency in Australia.

MS MacDONALD: My supplementary question to the minister is: can you inform the Assembly what the overall reaction has been to the establishment of the position of Small Business Commissioner?

MR QUINLAN: I can say to this Assembly that across the business sector of the ACT there has been a positive reaction from the Business Council, even the chamber of commerce, Australian Business Ltd, the ACT Micro and Home Business Association, the Fair Trading Coalition, CPA Australia and even the National Association of Retail Grocers of Australia. One lone voice, I think, against the appointment is the Leader of the Opposition who is obviously not in tune with the business sector, who have been positively behind this appointment. I would have actually thought that the business sector was the natural constituency of the Liberal Party, and I suppose it would be in another time and another place.

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