Nick Sherry, Federal Minister for Small Business, was the one who proposed this tribunal option in an options paper that was released.
The following key ideas are contained in the paper:
1. A National Information and Referral Service - this includes a website and a telephone line that directs small businesses to other services in their area.
2. A National Dispute Resolution Service - will provide referrals and information and offer low-cost mediation.
3. A National Small Business Tribunal - will deal with small business disputes backed by Commonwealth legislation.
4. A Small Business Advocate - would independently represent the interests of small businesses to the Australian government.
According to Sherry, the small business tribunal will serve as a “one-stop shop” for disputes and will be backed up by commonwealth legislation.
It has been found out that one in five small businesses, or about 20 per cent of Australia’s 2 million small businesses, had been involved in a dispute with another small business in the past five years according to the survey conducted by the Department of Innovation, Industry, Science and Research (DIISR). Around 2/3 of these cases were payment-related while around 9 per cent were serious.
It was also further found out that many small businesses did not know where to go with the disputes. However, if they knew, they also hesitated due to financial concerns.
"My aim is to bring about a national business-to-business disputes resolution process that is accessible, prompt and as low cost as possible for small businesses," Sherry said.
He added that the aim of the tribunal is to keep disputes out of court especially those small business disputes that only require low-cost and speedy services.
News sources: Smart Company | Sydney Morning Herald | Herald Sun | Queensland Business Review