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Small business pays the price for supplying the Federal Government.



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Media Release Chris Bowen MP FEDERAL MEMBER FOR PROSPECT CHAIR, WASTE WATCH COMMITEE

SMALL BUSINESS PAYS THE PRICE FOR SUPPLYING THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT

29 May 2006

A Federal Government policy that all Government departments settle their debts with small business within 30 days of receiving an invoice has been described as a “joke” by the Labor Party, following revelations that Government departments are failing to meet the requirement.

Answers to parliamentary questions on notice by Labor Backbencher Chris Bowen show that some Federal Government departments are not even keeping records of their payments to small business.

“Government policy is clear: debts to small business should be paid within 30 days. The only problem is the policy is being completely ignored by the Government’s own departments,” Mr Bowen said.

“The Department of Defence is the worst offender. Last financial year they failed to pay over 100,000 bills on time. But Defence Minister Nelson has refused to upgrade the Department’s accounting system to tell how badly small business is being affected by this tortoise-like payment system.

“When you are running a small business, you have to pay your debts on time, no ‘ifs’ or ‘buts’, and the same rule should apply to the Federal Government.

“Government departments should be easing the pressure on the cash flow of small businesses.

“Not even the Prime Minister’s own department keeps records to show if they are complying with the guidelines.

“How can they say they are complying with the policy when they don’t bother to check.

“John Howard talks a lot about small business, but you don’t see much delivery.” Mr Bowen said.

“John Howard should immediately instruct his Ministers to do small business a favour and simply pay their debts on time.” Mr Bowen said.

Media Inquiries -Chris Bowen 0419 018 932 James Cullen 6277 4278 or 0409 719 879