Page 5064 - Week 12 - Wednesday, 26 October 2011

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when the government enters into contracts, the costs, expectations and standards are readily identifiable to avoid disputes arising. Some of the payment practices and contractual structures are concerning. I hope that, in light of the coming reviews, improved mechanisms can be found to prevent these issues and ultimately provide better services at the best value.

Returning to the broader issue of invoice payment, there will, of course, sometimes be that balance, as I said earlier, in ensuring economy, value for money and prompt payment for businesses. There will be times when the government, as I said, should rightly challenge invoices and delay payment while discussions are undertaken. At times this will involve a discretion that could be exercised either way, and we understand this will always be the case. But, of course we should aim to pay as quickly as possible.

As we know, it is in the Labor-Greens agreement and it is current government policy that there is 30 days payment. I note Mr Barr’s amendment that talks about 85 per cent of invoices being paid within 30 days. That is okay, but we can do better. As the amendment notes, the government should be working to improve this figure. As we have heard, there are particular issues within the Community Services Directorate, and Ms Le Couteur’s amendment requires each directorate to table a list of outstanding invoices to the Assembly.

More needs to be done, and the amendment requires this issue to be dealt with in the annual reports process. That is a constructive way to ensure that the issue is always monitored and problems can be dealt with accordingly. We have also included a request, as Ms Le Couteur pointed out, to the Auditor-General to consider whether this is an issue that she should investigate so that we have a more detailed picture of the current practice across government.

I must say that I am still quite surprised that the Liberal Party would want to make the process of payment to small business 50 per cent slower than the current period set out in the Labor-Greens agreement. I just do not quite understand that. That is not in the best interests of small business, and I think that small business understand that the Greens are looking after their interests. I commend Ms Le Couteur’s amendment.

Mr Barr’s amendment to Ms Le Couteur’s proposed amendment agreed to.

MRS DUNNE (Ginninderra) (5.07): I move the following amendment:

Insert new subparagraph (2)(e):

“(e)  table information on how much interest has been paid to entities, which have not been paid on time during the last and the current financial year;”.

It was very interesting to listen to the debate. Is that the best that you can do? The Treasurer has got his little lines running out, and Ms Le Couteur and Ms Hunter are starting to believe their own rhetoric. It is interesting that, as we get closer to the election and the Greens get more desperate about their underperformance, we are actually starting to see the desperation in the faces of the Greens when you go through all the things they criticised everybody else for doing for the past three years.

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