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New Expert Panels to enhance COSBOA’s advocacy – starting with industrial relations


The COSBOA Board has recently endorsed the proposal to establish a series of expert panels tasked with engaging in small business policy topics in depth. The panels will comprise industry association leaders in COSBOA’s membership and address topics including industrial relations, competition, vocational education and training (VET), red tape reform, small business finance, local economic development and mental health.


The panels will leverage the knowledge and expertise of COSBOA’s diverse industry association membership base that collectively represents more than 800,000 Australian small businesses. COSBOA represents industries as diverse as hairdressing, fuel retail, independent supermarkets, screen production, natural medicine, HR, bookkeeping, and livestock transport, with one thing in common —small business.


COSBOA CEO Peter Strong said “COSBOA’s strength is in its members. Industry association leaders listen to small business people every day; they know their sector inside and out, and are often the bridge between small businesses and government, so have deep understanding and experience in advocacy and policy.


“We want to bring that expertise and inside knowledge from lots of different industries together and have in-depth discussions on specific issues affecting small business. This will allow COSBOA to come up with detailed policies and recommendations, compile case studies, and present a position to governments, media, and the wider public.”


COSBOA Chair Mark McKenzie said “The development of these expert panels represents an important step in COSBOA’s growth as an organisation. In recent years, COSBOA has developed comprehensive positions on several areas of critical importance in recent years. These panels will work with the COSBOA secretariat and the COSBOA board to further develop the organisation’s knowledge and ongoing advocacy in each of these priority areas”.


The first expert panel will be dedicated to industrial relations. COSBOA Chairman, Mark McKenzie, will lead the group. Mark will be joined by former COSBOA director and CEO of MGA Independent Retailers, Mr Jos de Bruin, as well as senior representatives from the Australian Meat Industry Council (AMIC), the Australian Hairdressing Council (AHC), and the Australian Human Resources Institute.


Mr Strong said “We are going to stand up to the IR Club who represents the big end of town and has dominated this space for far too long. We’ll provide the small business perspective as we always have done, but now we’ll have the resources to provide the detail, evidence and examples along with it. COSBOA will continue to bang the drum on the need to make the IR system simpler for small businesses and their employees alike.”


Mr McKenzie said “In the wake of the failure of several important elements of the IR Omnibus Bill to pass through the Senate, it is vital that we continue to advocate for change through constructive collaboration with like-minded stakeholders. A more flexible IR system is a crucial component of job creation and our economic recovery from COVID-19.


“I look forward to working with a group of such intelligent, highly experienced industry association leaders and harnessing their knowledge to assist in delivering meaningful outcomes for SMEs.”

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