Hands off the SBDC, warns BEC Australia

Australia’s peak body for Small Business Advice, Business Enterprise Centres Australia, is urging the WA government to ignore calls to privatise or amalgamate the Small Business Development Corporation (SBDC).

The privatisation calls are being viewed by many observers as a move by the WA Chamber of Commerce and Industry to position itself to take over SBDC contracts, including small business support and advice work carried out by Small Business Centres and Business Enterprise Centres throughout WA.

“This is a dangerous time for playing with WA’s support mechanism for small business,” says BEC Australia chairman, Peter Murray.

“Firstly, the economy is providing a more challenging environment than usual this year, leading to a 47 per cent jump in small businesses seeking advice and support from Business Enterprise Centres nationwide.

“Secondly, the WA lost its Small Business minister on January 1 this year, as old portfolios were merged into the Department of Commerce. This leaves the SBDC as the only “direct” channel for the WA government to support the thousands of small businesses in the West.

“As any government would understand, the small business sector delivers tangible economic benefit to a state’s treasury, so this last remaining linkage is too important to farm out to lobby groups or absorb into a large department,” he says.

Small Business Centres and Business Enterprise Centres in WA are independently run with community boards, ensuring maximum resources are funnelled directly into small business support and advice.

“In other parts of Australia, many such centres in the Business Enterprise Centre network are funded directly by state or federal bodies to deliver services to small and micro business,” says Peter. “It is an alternative model the WA government could consider should there be any concern about the effectiveness of the SBDC.

“Ultimately, it comes down to confidence and resourcing. What small business people in WA need right now is to know the government has them on its radar and is committed to maintaining the vital support lifeline available through SBCs and BECs.”

ENDS

CONTACT: Peter Murray, national chairman, BEC Australia …. 0402 722 788

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