Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman, Kate Carnell, answers your questions

Few would argue that 2020 has been a tough year for Australia – and especially for the country’s millions of small businesses.

We started the year with many of parts of the country still in drought, other parts being consumed by devastating bushfires – then came floods and wild storms to NSW and Western Australia.

Australians barely had time to catch their breath when the COVID-19 pandemic hit.

With it came the unprecedented collapse of employment, tourism, and businesses around the country. The country went into lockdown to try and reduce infections rates of the virus, which has now killed more than 100,000 people in the US.

The hibernation has paid off, and Australia’s infection rate has plummeted. The death toll stands at 103.

The economic fallout has been devastating, and few businesses have been spared.

As Australia now heads into recovery mode, small businesses are expected to play a major role. There are some three million small businesses in Australia, which account for 98 per cent of all businesses.

Collectively they contribute almost $400 billion annually to the nation’s economy. They employ more than five million Australians and are the single largest employer in eight of Australia’s biggest industries.

Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman, Kate Carnell, said small businesses provide positions for more apprentices than any other sector.

“The key to restarting the economy is to get people back to work and build economic confidence,” she said.

“Small business provides the foundation for economic activity – to construct a secure future for themselves, their families and their employees.”

Ms Carnell will be online at 1.30pm today (AEST) to answer your questions in an hour-long Q&A.

You can ask questions in advance in the comments below, or during the session.

Due to the number of questions, Ms Carnell may not be able to answer everyone.

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