Kate Carnell – Australia’s first Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman

Kate Carnell has been appointed as Australia’s first Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman and will be a key contributor to ‘energizing enterprise’ in the Australian economy.

Small Business Minister Kelly O’Dwyer chose Kate Carnell, who until recently led the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry [ACCI] and who is also a former ACT chief minister, to fill the newly created position for a five year period.

Ms Carnell will lead a small team and the independent office has been allocated a budget of about $6 million to offer a range of services to small and medium sized enterprises with employees of less than 100 people.


As a former pharmacy owner, Kate brings  first-hand experience and a personal commitment to enterprising women and men who take risks, invest and create opportunities for themselves, others and our community.

Kate will act as a concierge for self-employed, small businesses and family enterprises seeking to fairly resolve disputes quickly and to get back to business by making best use of the range of State, Commonwealth and industry-led schemes.

Making sure that the Commonwealth and its agencies are fully informed about the needs and aspirations of smaller enterprises, and ensuring these interests are ‘front of mind’ in policy development, program design and procurement, is another key aspects of the role that Kate is uniquely qualified to deliver.

Ms O’Dwyer said Ms Carnell would bring extensive experience and knowledge to the role of Ombudsman, given her background in business, and was “well-positioned to translate the voices of small Australian businesses and family enterprises into targeted policy messages for government”.

The appointment was “a major win for small business owners who will have access to advice and support, and an independent advocate to ensure the government creates the right conditions for small businesses to grow”.

“The government acknowledges small businesses make a substantial contribution to Australia’s economy with over two million small businesses generating around a third of economic output.”

Ms Carnell’s appointment comes as the government considers its response to the Productivity Commission’s report on Australia’s work laws and what, if any, industrial relations changes it will take to the next election.

The Commission recommended in its report that the independent Fair Work Commission consider cutting some Sunday penalty rates to the same level as Saturday rates, a position backed by Ms Carnell in the ACCI’s submission.

She leaves the ACCI, one of the largest business lobby groups in the country, after a little less than two years with the organisation and will begin in her new role on March 11.

(Information in this article courtesy of media release by The Hon Bruce Billson MP and Fairfax Media)