Government news and reforms

Building and Construction Industry Code of Conduct 

On 5 December 2016, the WA Building and Construction Code of Conduct 2016 for contractors working on WA Government construction projects was announced. The Code will apply from 1 January 2017 and has been developed to ensure that building contractors conduct themselves in a reputable, fair, safe and responsible manner particularly on government funded construction projects. More information about the Code is available on the Department of Commerce website.

Greater protection measures announced for subcontractors

As of 30 September 2016 Project Bank Accounts on Building Management and Works construction projects valued between $1.5 million and $100 million is now mandatory. A Code of Conduct for contractors working on State Government construction projects has also been developed.

Further information can be located on the Government of Western Australia media statement page.

90 Day Regulatory Mapping projects

The Government has launched the 90 Day Regulatory Mapping projects to reduce red tape and make it easier for small business to flourish in Western Australia.

Taking place over the next three years, each project will seek to identify red tape burdens on businesses, and offer practical recommendations to reduce the impact of these regulations.

The main outcomes from each project will be:

  • a regulatory map to guide users through the process
  • a list of recommendations that government agencies have agreed to put in place as a priority to reduce the burden of compliance.

The project teams are drawn from the Small Business Development Corporation and the Economic Reform unit in the Department of Finance. Industry stakeholders, the small business community and relevant government agencies will also be involved in the projects. 

View details of current and completed projects here or on the Department of Finance website.

Support for the taxi industry

From 4 July 2016 major changes to the on-demand transport (taxi) industry in Western Australia have been implemented by the Department of Transport (this also includes the omnibus sector).

If you are a small business owner in the taxi industry (either by owning or leasing taxi plates) a Transition Assistance Package will be available to help you through these changes (subject to eligibility).

The package comprises:

  • A Hardship Fund for taxi plate owners – to be distributed by the Department of Transport
  • An Innovation Fund that includes:
    • A transition payment of $20,000 for each owned plate – to be distributed by the Department of Transport
    • Advice and guidance for taxi plate owners and lease plate holders to help you innovate within your business – this support will be provided by the Small Business Development Corporation

As the taxi industry is operating within an increasingly competitive environment it will become even more important to ensure you make informed business decisions. While the changes may have had a significant impact on your business, they will also provide a range of new opportunities. Sound business advice and guidance will help you understand the emerging market and the options available to take your business forward.

If you would like to receive advice and guidance to help your business through the deregulation process please register your interest here.

Full details of the On-demand Transport Reform are available on the Department of Transport website.

WA’s State Budget 2016-17

The Western Australian Treasurer, Hon. Mike Nahan, has released an easy-to-read snapshot of the 2016-17 State Budget highlighting initiatives for each sector including small business.

View the WA Budget infographic.

Unfair contract terms

A new law protecting small businesses from unfair contract terms in standard form contracts applies to contracts entered into or renewed on or after 12 November 2016, where:

  • it is for the supply of goods or services or the sale or grant of interest in land
  • at least one of the businesses employs less than 20 people
  • the price of the contract is no more than $300,000 or $1 million if the contract is for more than 12 months.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) and the Department of Commerce will enforce this law.

Examples of terms that may be unfair include:

  • terms that enable one party (but not another) to avoid or limit their obligations under the contract
  • terms that enable one party (but not another) to terminate the contract
  • terms that penalise one party (but not another) for breaching or terminating the contract
  • terms that enable one party (but not another) to vary the terms of the contract.

Further details can be found on the ACCC website.

Personal Property Securities Register (PPSR) business guide

The Australian Financial Security Authority has a business guide to assist small businesses understand the PPSR and the practical steps they can take to protect their property.

The PPSR guide is relevant if you:

  • hire, rent or lease out goods
  • sell goods on retention of title terms
  • buy or sell valuable second-hands goods or assets
  • want to raise finance using stock or other assets as collateral
  • work as an adviser to clients who conduct these activities.

For more information download the PPSR business guide.