Page 5065 - Week 12 - Wednesday, 26 October 2011

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The propensity now to delete all words after “that” and substitute your own words is fair enough, but when you delete all of Mr Smyth’s words after “that” and then put most of them back, you show that you are desperate and you cannot really get your act together. Ms Le Couteur could have legitimately made amendments to Mr Smyth’s motion in a much more respectful way, but she chose not to do it, because the Greens are desperate.

The only thing that they have to say is, “How can you possibly do this because this has been in the Labor-Greens agreement at paragraph 7.3 for all this time?” Well, what did it do for northern bridging services? They were not paid in a timely manner by the Community Services Directorate. At paragraph 7.3 in the Labor-Greens agreement there is something that says everything should be paid on time. That really worked for northern bridging services! To be owed in excess of $200,000 when you are a community organisation and to be almost forced into insolvency by a government agency who contracted you to provide services and then would not pay you is absolutely and utterly reprehensible. Nothing at paragraph 7.3 of the Labor-Greens agreement did a thing to help northern bridging services. The thing that helped northern bridging services was the fact that the community advocate looked into the matter and the community advocate recommended that they be paid promptly.

How did we get to the fact that the community advocate was looking into the matter? Minister Burch said that she knew that something was going on way back in June, but she really did not do anything until 15 September, because on 9 and 12 September the Liberals wrote to her and said, “Minister, you’ve got a problem.” And she knew that she was smoked. After six weeks she did something. After six weeks we had an inquiry, and one of the results of that inquiry was, as of last week, northern bridging services were paid most—and I emphasise, most—of what they asked for, and they were not paid interest.

The real, practical current example we have before us of how ineffective the Greens have been has been the late payments to northern bridging services. And it is not chump change—it is in excess of $200,000. It is not a little invoice. I suspect that it is not on that list that Mr Seselja has. I pointed out to the minister that northern bridging services are not on that list, and I suspect they are not on that list because the agency just put against their invoices, “Do not pay.” It is pretty easy not to get on your aged creditors’ list if you just mark it, “Do not pay.” It does not even make it to the list. That is what happened to the invoices for northern bridging services until the community advocate called on the minister’s directorate to pay them properly.

We have seen in the debate today Mr Barr, Ms Le Couteur and Ms Hunter saying: “The terrible Liberals. They’re actually making it worse for small business. They’re actually increasing”—they all used the same term—“by 50 per cent the time necessary to pay bills.” That is not the case. That is the confection that makes them feel comfortable, that makes them feel virtuous about their own position. Our position is that bills should be paid on time, and the usual rule of thumb is 30 days. We are not saying that if you do not pay in 30 days then you accrue interest. We are actually giving some free board for those issues like disputes and, “Did we actually get what we paid for? What is it delivered on time,” all of those sorts of things. But if all those

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