It has been an honour to have served the small businesses of Queensland for the past six years in the inaugural roles of Small Business Champion and Small Business Commissioner, and I depart the role of Small Business Commissioner feeling blessed, happy, and proud.
It is hard to believe that two and a half years ago the Queensland Small Business Commissioner (QSBC) did not even exist. How we were up and running at such lightning speed is a wonder. It was the 28th of May 2020. I recall it all so clearly – we opened the phone lines and our website went live at exactly 12:45 pm. I remember because it was just 15 minutes following the passing of our authorising legislation – show time!
On that day, we already had hundreds of commercial leasing and rent relief inquiries and disputes waiting in the queue and, with the phones and online inquiry form going live, a fast flow of new inquiries was coming in. If there was ever a need for ‘all hands to the pump’ this was it. We still keep waiting for the day the pace slows down, but it hasn’t so far!
Among that early queue of disputes, we knew of two small business tenants facing imminent eviction. By the end of that first day, we had successfully secured and scheduled mediations for each and I am proud to say both businesses resolved their disputes and are still going strong today. Of course, not every story has had a happy ending, but there has been a great deal of time, cost, and stress that our services have lifted off the shoulders of small business owners, their families, and staff, in moments of hardship and distress.
In my time as Commissioner, some of our more notable achievements include:
- responding to 6,563 inquiries
- case managing 1,329 commercial tenancy or retail shop lease disputes
- conducting 636 mediations
- undertaking 904 engagement activities to raise awareness of our existence and how our services can help
- welcoming 43 local councils to our Small Business Friendly Councils program – meaning 78% of Queensland’s small businesses now operate in a small business-friendly council area
- demonstrating the need for a permanent QSBC service for Queensland.
I’ve asked a lot from my big-hearted team. They’ve worked long hours, been hauled all over the state, rolled up their sleeves, and quietly gone about getting on with the job. During flood events, snap lockdowns, you name it, they consistently dug deep and made it happen. I couldn’t be prouder of them and what they have achieved.
These past few days, many small businesses and industry groups, chambers of commerce, and small business support services have taken the opportunity to contact me to share their own stories of how the QSBC has positively impacted them, their members, or clients. Thank you.
But I can’t go without leaving one more very special, parting gift to my beloved small businesses of Queensland. Over the next few days, the team is set to launch our much-anticipated brand new website and web address. I hope it makes a significant difference to how you interact with the QSBC, and how you navigate what I call ‘the fog’ of information, grants, and support. Keep an eye out for it, and let us know what you think!
In a way, the QSBC is my seventh start-up. I derive enormous satisfaction and energy from building and creating something wonderful out of nothing. With great momentum underway, my work here is done, and I am delighted to hand the reigns of the QSBC over to Dominique Lamb who will be your new commissioner from 23 December. I know you are all in very capable hands. I wish Dominique all the very best with continuing the great work of my amazing team, and all that has been achieved this far together.
Until our paths meet again, and I hope they do,
Queensland Small Business Commissioner