What is the Small Business Commissioner?
The Office of the Small Business Commissioner, formed in March 2012, provides services whereby disputes can be resolved with as little stress as possible to small business operators. The Commissioner also provides information to improve the capacity of small businesses to manage their affairs and inform their decision making, so that disputes are less likely to occur.
The Office of the Small Business Commissioner provides the following services:
- Receiving and investigating complaints by or on behalf of small businesses regarding their commercial dealings with other businesses, State or Local government agencies or bodies.
- Facilitating the resolution of such complaints through measures considered appropriate by the Commissioner. These include measures such as mediation services and/or making representations on behalf of small businesses.
- Disseminating information to small businesses to assist them in making decisions relevant to their commercial dealings with other businesses and their dealings with State and Local government bodies. This will primarily occur via various electronic means.
- Monitoring, investigating and (where it is prescribed) enforcing compliance with an Industry Code that may adversely affect small businesses.
- Investigating market practices that may adversely affect a small business.
What is the Mining and Resources Industry Land Access Dispute Resolution Code?
Following the Government’s election commitment to assist primary producers to negotiate access to their land by resource companies, the Small Business Commissioner was tasked to provide structured alternative dispute resolution services between small businesses (farmers) and resource companies.
A draft Mining and Resources Industry Land Access Dispute Resolution Code was prepared and consulted on between August and September 2018 and released on 29 November 2018. The Code is based on existing industry codes (motor vehicle, newsagency, farming, franchising and building and construction industry codes) managed by the Commissioner and will provide the Commissioner with the power to bring opposing parties to the mediation table.
Apart from enacting the Code, the Office of the Small Business Commissioner will provide information to farmers and resource companies as required. You can view the Code and learn more about the role of the Commissioner and your rights from the Small Business Commissioner's website.
It is important to note that an application to the Office of the Small Business Commissioner to mediate a particular land access matter is not a replacement for lodging an objection to a notice of entry with the relevant court; this is the responsibility of the landowner.
The Commissioner will endeavour to complete the mediation process within the three month objection period of the Mining Act 1971 or within the period of fixed mediation under the Petroleum and Geothermal Energy Act 2000 (2 months). However, the Commissioner does not have the power of the Environment, Resources and Development or Warden’s Courts and cannot make determinations on preventing entry (only the Court can make that determination), nor can the Commissioner extend the right to object.