The Franchise Council of Australia (FCA) is disappointed the South Australian government’s intent on introducing back-door franchising legislation through its Small Business Commissioner Bill 2011, especially as the 57 public submissions to the Bill have never been made publicly available.

The FCA has made clear its objection to the Bill, which is being pushed by Small Business Minister Tom Koutsantonis.

According to the FCA, South Australian Labor was trying to introduce anti-franchising legislation under the cover of a Small Business Commissioner Bill supposedly based on a model adopted in Victoria, and followed in other States, including NSW, WA and possibly Queensland.

At the same time, this Bill will also introduce a de-facto franchising Act that will have high penalties and potentially different rules to those which apply in every other state.

FCA executive director Steve Wright said it is a legislation that the sector doesn’t want despite Koutsantonis’ claim that the undisclosed submissions suggest otherwise.

“The FCA certainly has expressed such concerns, but Mr Koutsantonis does not seem to care. In fact, he claims the franchising sector actually wants this legislation – a claim it is impossible to verify because none of the responses to his draft legislation have been laid open to view,” he said.

"It is pretty audacious to claim widespread support for a Bill without even publishing the responses to it – or explaining why the Bill which was put in the Parliament was so dramatically different to that which was put out for a very short consultation period.

“Small business needs reduced red tape, not a new big-stick bureaucracy which the WA Government estimates would cost taxpayers millions of dollars a year to run. SA already trails the rest of the nation in terms of business confidence. Mr Koutsantonis’ Bill will make the situation worse, not better.