The COSBOA annual general meeting took place last Thursday on 21 October. We had hoped to be able to have an in-person meeting in 2021 - alas, that wasn’t the case, and COSBOA members met at ‘Hotel Zoom’ for the second year in a row.
This year’s meeting was also a farewell event for our recently retired former CEO, Peter Strong.
We celebrated Peter’s sincerity, dedication, and positive impact on small business policy, as well as his eccentricity, humour and creativity. One quality of Peter’s admired by everyone was his willingness to talk to anyone, no matter their political affiliation or background, and recognise their humanity. Several special guests who had worked with Peter over the years joined us to wish him farewell, and those who couldn’t be there sent in some lovely, heartfelt messages which you can see in this video.
This year we also had to say goodbye to two Directors. Sandy Chong and former COSBOA Chair, Mark McKenzie, had both served six consecutive years on the COSBOA Board, the maximum allowed by our constitution.
They will be replaced by Wes Lambert and Jos de Bruin.
Wes Lambert is the CEO of Restaurant and Catering Association, the national industry association representing the interests of more than 48,000 restaurants, cafés and catering businesses across Australia. Wes is IFRS CPA Qualified, a Fellow of the Governance Institute, recently earned his Certified Association Executive accreditation and for over 20 years, has progressively built his executive level change management, lobbying, negotiation, governance, finance and accounting experience in diverse roles across multiple industries and sectors around the globe, and enjoys the art of dealmaking. He was also named and AuSAE Influencer for 2020. You can read more about him here.
Wes said that, as one of the newest board members to COSBOA, he endeavours to keep up the fight for small businesses.
Jos de Bruin is the CEO of the Master Grocers Association which trades as MGA Independent Retailers & Timber Merchants Australia (MGATMA), a leading a national registered industry organisation dedicated to supporting the needs of independently owned supermarket, bottleshop, timber and hardware businesses and other retail outlet owners.
Jos stepped down from the Board in 2020 after serving for the maximum term and we’re pleased to welcome him back in 2021. Read more about him here.
Jos said that he feels privileged to be a Board Director of COSBOA and looks very much forward to supporting the hardworking COSBOA team to continue being the peak voice and advocate, at all levels of government, for all small businesses and family enterprises from around Australia.
Our two outgoing Directors also had messages to share.
Mark McKenzie said: “Being Chair of COSBOA was both challenging and rewarding - particularly given the past 18 months as we worked with all Australian Governments to ensure meaningful assistance was made available to support small businesses through the COVID-19 Pandemic.
But what I am most proud of is that we elevated the policy focus on small business issues by all Australian Governments over the past 5 years to a level that is largely consistent with that of big business – and that we developed constructive relationships with the big business lobby and the union movement in the process.
The challenge now is to maintain and build on this development by working constructively with all Australian Governments (and their respective Agencies) to support small business recovery in a post COVID19 world.”
Sandy Chong said: “I am proud and honoured to be a COSBOA Board Director for 6 years. The networking opportunities, introductions and opportunity to lobby on behalf of all small businesses has been invaluable. I am grateful to COSBOA for all the advocacy work and presence at all Government levels and media representation ensuring small business has a credible and knowledgeable voice that is heard and respected.”