Page 2609 - Week 09 - Wednesday, 7 August 2013

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dismay this account also was not approved. This time the explanation was, “It is no longer financially viable to provide this service.” It is at this point that Betta Bins approached my office seeking clarification. Mr Rattenbury, in his response to my representations confirmed, and I quote:

… from late April 2013, the Territory Municipal Services Directorate has suspended the approval of credit accounts for disposal of waste at its Resource Management Centres across the ACT. This decision has been taken due to the number of companies that have entered into liquidation in recent times, resulting in the Territory incurring unrecoverable debts. In addition, a recent review of the landfill credit accounts identified repeated delinquent accounts. Consequently, to limit the Territory’s exposure to potential liabilities for bad debts, new applications for credit facilities have been suspended.

This statement highlights the hypocrisy of this government. This illustrates that this government simply wants to have its cake and eat it too. The government claims that the service has been scrapped as a result of an increase in business failures in the ACT. As a result, it is employing a heavy-handed approach to all new applicants, a heavy-handed approach to everyone because it has not properly managed the risk portfolio of its current account holders. There are steps that the government should be taking to minimise their risk exposure to the failing businesses, but it has instead decided to punish the entire business sector alike.

Providing account services in the circumstances outlined in my motion benefits not only the small business sector but also offers efficiencies for the government. For the business that I have highlighted here today, it offers flexibility in their cash flow, an important aspect for any business, particularly in an uncertain economic climate. It offers businesses security, in so far as they do not need to provide their truck drivers with cash or a credit card in order to use the tip facilities.

For government there are also significant benefits. An account system provides data relating to how many businesses are delivering refuse to the tip and the volumes of waste that are being dumped. It also provides security at the waste management sites by having less cash on hand and ensures that there is no temptation for tills to be skimmed.

Madam Speaker, I mentioned earlier that this is a case of the government wanting to have its cake and eat it too. On one hand, we have TAMS demanding cash up-front at the tip. Yet on the other hand the government only operates on an invoicing basis for goods and services it receives. The government demands that local businesses extend and absorb the credit risk in providing services to governments, yet the same courtesy is not being extended in return.

Perhaps there is a solid case for the business sector to start demanding cash payment up-front from the government. In a question taken on notice during the estimates hearings, the Treasurer has revealed to me that currently there are 173 invoices that are over 30 days. That is, they are late. These invoices amount to over $470,000 and on average these invoices are 101.7 days late. In fact, some of them are as late as 355 days. With that sort of uncertainty, it is impossible to do business.

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