Former Fair Work Ombudsman (FWO) Natalie James has been named Council of Small Business Organisations Australia (COSBOA)’s Small Business Champion.
James was presented the award by Peter Strong, CEO of COSBOA and Mark McKenzie, CEO, ACAPMA and Chair of COSBOA, for her outstanding support to the small business community.
James was instrumental in removing much of the red tape in workplace regulations and drove the push for new penalty rates for small business owners and their employees. She also launched a dedicated helpline for small business owners to access workplace relations advice.
Strong praised James for her commitment to a fair go for small business owners and for her support in providing better services for small business operators.
“Ms James was always willing to listen; she used her position to influence change and was supportive and available to work with COSBOA and small businesses. The creation of the Small Business Helpline has been instrumental in providing advice on workplace relations. For four years, Natalie presented at the National Small Business Summit, speaking openly to small business leaders and representatives
COSBOA Chairman Mark McKenzie joined Strong in singing the virtues of the former regulator.
“When you are an advocate, you look for a cooperative approach with regulators, ones that have enough punch to scare your membership in terms of managing the industry, but who also show a willingness to work with you. That’s why we chose Natalie James,” said Mr McKenzie.
In accepting the award, James reflected on her surprise nomination saying she didn’t think of herself as a small business champion.
“Ultimately, what we all want and what is good for society is sustainable businesses, which means compliant businesses,’ said James.
“It’s not fair for compliant businesses to be competing against those who aren’t doing the right thing, particularly those who are deliberately not doing the right thing as a business model and profiting from exploiting vulnerable workers.
“So it was incidental that I was also supporting businesses, especially small businesses, who are so very reliant on sources of advice from industry associations and government.”