A business lobbyist and advocate for cutting penalty rates has been appointed Australia’s first small business and family enterprise ombudsman.

TheĀ  Minister for Small Business, Kelly O’Dwyer MP has announced the appointment of Kate Carnell as the inaugural Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman

Ms Kelly describe the role as an independent Ombudsman with real powers to act as a:

  • Commonwealth advocate for small businesses and family enterprises;
  • Concierge for dispute resolution service to allow businesses to resolve disputes without resorting to costly litigation; and
  • Contributor to the development of small business Commonwealth laws and regulations.

Kate Carnell addressing a Beyong Blue function

Ms Carnell will commence the new role on 11 March for a five year period.

Ms Carnell brings extensive experience and knowledge to the role of Ombudsman. Ms Carnell, who ran her own small businesses for 15 years before becoming ACT Chief Minister, is well-positioned to translate the voices of small Australian businesses and family enterprises into targeted policy messages for Government.

Ms Carnell has held the position of CEO of the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry since 2014, which represents more than 300,000 businesses across Australia.

She is the former CEO of beyondblue, the Australian Food and Grocery Council and the Australian General Practice Network. She is a pharmacist by profession and was the first female to become the National Vice-President of the Pharmacy Guild of Australia.

Ms Carnell’s appointment comes as the government considers its response to the Productivity Commission’s report on Australia’s work laws and what, if any, industrial relations changes it will take to the next election.

The Commission recommended in its report that the independent Fair Work Commission consider cutting some Sunday penalty rates to the same level as Saturday rates, a position backed by Ms Carnell in the ACCI’s submission.