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FRANCHISE LAWS BACK ON THE AGENDA IN WESTERN AUSTRALIA

by Simon Lord,
last updated 09/03/2012

9 March 2012 - The possibility of state-based franchising laws is again on the political agenda in Australia, with the Western Australia (WA) Opposition looking to push its Franchise Agreements Bill 2011 through the Upper House of Parliament.

Steve Wright, the Executive Director of the Franchise Council of Australia, has written to members saying, ‘ The move is a continuation of the Opposition’s destabilisation campaign waged against the Government for much of last year. It comes as more positive initiatives in the franchising and broader small business market have attracted positive media attention in WA and nationally.

The Bill was on the Notice Paper yesterday, but was not heard. However, it could be debated as early as next week.

FCA Chairman Stephen Giles and Steve Wright will be in Perth next week to talk to the major parties, as well as the newly appointed WA Small Business Commissioner.

The Bill, originally put forward by former Labor Opposition Small Business Spokesperson Ljilianna Ravlich last year, but now championed by new spokesperson Kate Doust, is very similar to Liberal backbencher Peter Abetz’s Private Member’s Bill which has been rejected twice in the Lower House in the past. If the Bill passes the Upper House, legislative process dictates it must still return to the Lower House as it is yet to be heard there.

Steve Wright says that ‘The WA Labor Bill flies in the face of Federal Labor policy. The Federal Government does not support state-based legislation for franchising.’

Former Federal Minister for Small Business, Senator Nick Sherry, has described state-based legislation for franchising as "bizarre and unhelpful". ACCC Chairman Rod Simms has also voiced his opinion against state-based deviations from the Federal regime.

The Law Council of Australia, the Queensland Law Society, the WA Small Business Development Corporation, the FCA, the International Franchise Association and others have also expressed serious concerns.

WA and South Australia remain the only states to have the potential for state-based franchising laws on the agenda. Laws of this nature are not an issue that has been raised in the lead in to the 24 March Queensland state election.

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