David Eaton became Western Australia’s first Small Business Commissioner and CEO of the Small Business Development Corporation in January 2012.
The position of Small Business Commissioner was established by the Western Australian Parliament, through the Small Business Development Corporation Act 1983 (the Act).
In this dual role the Commissioner is dedicated to:
- facilitating access to information and practical support for small businesses
- providing assistance to resolve business-to-business disputes
- investigating complaints about unfair practices impacting small businesses
- advocating to all levels of government for policies and regulation which supports the establishment and growth of small businesses, and
- offering advice to the WA Minister for Small Business
One of the core functions the Commissioner oversees is our dispute resolution service. This is a low-cost way to resolve business-to-business and business-to-government disputes, avoiding court action and preserving business relationships.
The Act was amended in 2020 to clarify and enhance the powers of the Commissioner to investigate behaviours from the private sector, local government or state government that adversely impact the commercial activity of small businesses. The Commissioner can investigate a matter without the need for a formal complaint from a small business based on trends of behaviour observed in the marketplace and insights provided by government and industry. While the impetus for these amendments was the impact of late or non-payment of subcontractors working on government funded construction projects, WA small businesses across all industries stand to benefit from the changes.
The Commissioner works to improve the operating environment by advising public sector bodies on the impact of legislation and policies on the small business sector. He has a particular focus on reducing the burden of unnecessary compliance processes.
The WA Small Business Commissioner is a founding member of the National Forum of Small Business Commissioners. Along with his peers from South Australia, Victoria, Queensland, New South Wales and the Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman, the Commissioner progresses legislative and policy returns of national significance within the forum.