How can we help?

A Letter To the Editor: Family businesses – the ‘Silent’ sector

Family Business Association (FBA) advocates for the family business sector in relation to the proposed industrial relations (IR) legislation.

25 January, 2024
About Us, Advocacy, Legal, Family Business, Article, Family-Owned Business, Supporting Families in Business
image description
image description
image description

Family Business Association (FBA) advocates for the family business sector in relation to the proposed industrial relations (IR) legislation. 

Robert Gottliebsen wrote two articles published in The Australian on 15 and 16 January 2024 discussing the overlooked implications of the IR legislation on family businesses. 

The first article, Gottliebsen: law changes perfect recipe for family business drama (only available to subscribers of The Australian), Gottliebsen outlines six aspects to the legislation that will negatively impact family business, including; allowing any employee who is a union member to be automatically appointed as a "union delegate" by their union, requiring the business to pay for the cost of training and provide reasonable time off to undertake their union duties, and "making the definition of casual labour so complex that any family business employing people casually is taking a huge risk".

Gottliebsen's second article, Gottliebsen: Albanese government's family business changes bringing fury to the farm (only available to subscribers of The Australian), explains a recent interaction between Gottliebsen and a husband and wife who own a small dairy farm in southwestern Victoria. In this conversation, Gottliebsen explained some of the repercussions of the IR legislation on small family business to which the couple were unaware and shocked. This article reiterates the implications of the legislation on the family business sector with a focus on rural family businesses in Australia.

In response to Robert Gottliebsen’s articles, Catherine Sayer, FBA CEO, wrote a Letter to the Editor advocating that implications for family businesses have been overlooked to date and invites a conversation with the Federal Government to work towards a better outcome for all.

A Letter to the Editor: Family businesses – the ‘Silent’ sector 

Family Business Association (FBA) represents family businesses across Australia and New Zealand. Family businesses come in all sizes – small, medium and large, predominantly small, across all sectors of the community. In both cities, and regional and rural communities, they are everywhere you turn. The local café and restaurant, their suppliers, builders, services, manufacturers of all kinds, just to name a few. However, many people don’t realise the significance of the ‘silent’ sector. Family businesses represent approximately 70% of the Australian economy and about 50% of the workforce. They make a significant contribution to the social fabric of Australia. 

The current Fair Work Legislation Amendment (Closing Loopholes) Bill 2023 will have many consequences for family businesses across Australia which will be to the detriment of the Australian economy which seems to have been overlooked. Family businesses provide a solid base for all Australians to benefit from. If implemented, these proposed changes will have a long-term impact on the way business is done. Of course, we should be fair and reasonable with all employees – however, at a time where the cost of doing business is having significant impact on all Australians, family businesses do not need any additional cost burdens which will also ultimately be to the detriment of all Australians and their employees. 

FBA and our members welcome the opportunity to work with the Federal Government towards great outcomes for all. We know Australians love to support family businesses and are integral to all aspects of Australian life. 

Catherine Sayer
CEO Family Business Association