New survey reveals danger of DNCR extension

By: Graham Gardiner

An extension of the Do Not Call Register (DNCR) to include all Australian businesses phone and fax numbers will place

An extension of the Do Not Call Register (DNCR) to include all Australian businesses phone and fax numbers will place a significant financial strain on the majority of Australia's small businesses', according to new research.

The study commissioned by business search directory in partnership with the Council of Small Business of Australia (COSBOA) reveals 78 percent of small businesses do not have the resources to manage the proposed Government changes to the DNCR.

The findings come as the Federal Government has introduced legislation to extend the DNCR Act to allow all phone and fax numbers to be included on the register including those used by small businesses.

lf the proposed legislation is passed, small businesses will not be able to call a business to promote, advertise or propose to supply goods, services, land, business opportunities or investment opportunities if the number is on the DNCR and where there is no prior consent or an ongoing relationship.

Any business which fails to comply with the legislation and calls a business listed on the DNCR could face a fine of up to $1.1 million for each breach of the legislation.

lt is estimated 3O percent of organisations could list on the register.

ln November 2009, partnered with COSBOA and engaged research company CoreData to seek a snapshot of the views of small business towards the legislation and its impacts'.

The survey of 78I small businesses reveals many businesses were away of the legislation, with over half of respondents (58 percent) saying there were unaware of the Government’s proposed extension to the DNCR.

Forty-five percent of small businesses believe the overall cost of operating their business will increase.

Surprisingly, 22 percent of small businesses say they gain new business through phone calls, meaning an estimated 440,000 SMEs could be adversely affected by the legislation.

On an industry basis, the property, business services, communication, marketing and media sectors are most likely to be impacted by the changes if they go ahead.

COSBOA chief executive Jaye Radisich says industry needs to reduce red tape for small businesses' rather than increase new compliance costs.

"Phone calls are the most popular source of new business for many industries, especially in the services industries – so we’re concerned that these small businesses will be hampered by the new legislation," Radisich says.

"Small businesses need to be given a fair go to be able to generate new' local leads to build their businesses," she says.

Both TrueLocal and the COSBOA have made submissions to the Senate Standing committee's inquiry into the DNCR Legislation Amendment Bill 2009.

The committee is due to release its findings on February 24.

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