The government is coming under pressure to act on the recommendations of the franchising inquiry, with Labor pledging it will urgently establish a taskforce to implement them if elected.
The bipartisan inquiry made 71 recommendations for change when it released its damning report on the sector in March, pushing for a total overhaul of the sector and new laws, greater enforcement powers and penalties for the regulator, and a suite of changes to the franchising code.
Madeleine King, the shadow small business minister assisting, said Labor was the “driving force” behind the inquiry.
“It beggars belief that the Morrison government, which claims to represent the interests of small business, has sat on these recommendations and offered nothing,” she said.
Ms King said Labor would act swiftly if elected.
“Issues in the fraught franchising industry have been treated as a political football for too long by this government,” she said. “A Shorten Labor government will establish a franchising taskforce to implement the recommendations of this inquiry, as a matter of urgency.”
The government is yet to adopt any of the recommendations from the inquiry.
Minister for Small Business Michaelia Cash said the government is in “election commitment mode” and any action on franchising would be by way of commitment.
“We have the report and are currently considering it,” she said. “It is a very detailed report.”
Senator John Williams, who was instrumental in calling for the inquiry, said action was needed.
I hope this report does not just sit on the bench and gather dust.Senator John Williams
“I hope this report does not just sit on the bench and gather dust,” he said. “It’s important it be addressed straight after the election or as soon as possible to protect the small businesses.”
Mr Williams recalled when he moved an inquiry into liquidators in 2009 the changes did not occur until 2017.
“These things take time,” he said. “We have to keep the heat on them, I don’t want it to go to waste. We have so many people hurt so badly with this industry.”
Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman Kate Carnell said her office was prepared to spend “a major amount of time” ensuring the inquiry’s recommendations were adopted.
“It would be good to see some commitments from both sides of politics prior to the election,” she said.
The parliamentary inquiry was triggered by a series of media investigations by The Age and Sydney Morning Herald into 7-Eleven, Domino’s Pizza, Pizza Hut, Caltex and Retail Food Group where franchisees described franchising as “indentured servitude” or slavery.
Extracted from Sydney Morning Herald