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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2011 Week 12 Hansard (Wednesday, 26 October 2011) . . Page.. 5049 ..


(d) the Auditor-General will conduct compliance audits on the performance of government payments, and will review small business participation in government tenders; and

(3) calls on the government to table by Thursday 27 October 2011 details of payments due to suppliers of goods and services which are outstanding for periods greater than 30 days.

In this debate I want to emphasise the key role the ACT government have as a major player in the ACT economy and, indeed, as a play on words, a major payer in the ACT economy. With expenditure of more than $4 billion in the financial year 2011-12, a significant proportion of this spending will be buying goods and services from ACT businesses and non-government organisations as well as engaging local entities such as consultants. This spending has a direct effect on the viability of these businesses and organisations. Indeed, it has a direct knock-on effect on the businesses that they buy services from or that their staff, when paid, spend in the ACT economy.

We also need to emphasise the key role of small and medium businesses in the ACT economy. There are more than 25,000 smaller businesses in the ACT. A number of these will have at least part of their activities dependent on the ACT government or, as I have said before, have expenditure from people that receive ACT government payments come to their businesses. Some may be almost completely dependent on the ACT government for their businesses. For these businesses, cash flow will be a critical factor in their operations and hence in the sustainability of their businesses.

A key feature of the ACT economy is the important role of non-government organisations. We have dozens of different types of organisations from the very small to the very large. Many of them deliver government services to the community or they deliver services to the ACT government through contracts to build infrastructure or perform other projects for the ACT government. As with private sector businesses—or perhaps to a greater extent—these non-government organisations rely very heavily on the payments received from the ACT government. Typically, particularly for small or even medium businesses, they do not have access to substantial reserves, and any disruption to their cash flow can be a disaster for these businesses.

Many small businesses and non-government organisations rely on timely payment of invoices submitted to the ACT government. Of course, the payments may not rely on invoices, but they may be made under the terms of contractual arrangements. Either way, the cash flow of these businesses and organisations can be highly dependent on timely payments made by the ACT government. This is, I believe, essential background for my motion.

I note the document tabled by the Minister for Community Services last week. It is a schedule of outstanding invoices in her directorate which shows that there are tens of thousands of dollars of payments outstanding for between 30 and 60 days. It shows that there are tens of thousands of dollars outstanding for between 60 and 90 days. Indeed, it shows there are thousands of dollars outstanding for more than 90 days.

You only have to look at some of the numbers of the days outstanding to realise that some businesses in the ACT are not being treated with the respect they are due. There


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