Page 905 - Week 03 - Thursday, 19 March 2015

Next page . . . . Previous page . . . . Speeches . . . . Contents . . . . Debates(HTML) . . . . PDF . . . . Video

Today I am introducing the Government Procurement (Notifiable Instruments) Amendment Bill 2015. This bill will build upon transparency and government contracting provided by notifiable contracts provisions of the Government Procurement Act by requiring the government to publish information about payments it makes on invoices.

It is important that the government pays its bills on time. A large proportion of suppliers to government are small and medium-size enterprises. Those that are not often have such businesses who subcontract to them. It is important to the ACT economy that cash keeps flowing to these businesses, and the government takes seriously the significant part it has to play in this. For this reason the government is making a range of reforms that will support the sustainability of regional businesses, and this bill is one of those reforms.

The bill requires the government to publish information about invoices with a value of $25,000 or more, to be known as notifiable invoices, on the public register. Members are likely to be aware that the government is required to notify contracts with a value of $25,000 or more on a contract register. The $25,000 threshold is also established as the threshold for seeking a minimum of three quotations when undertaking procurement. It therefore makes sense for the notifiable invoices threshold to be set at $25,000. The following information about each notifiable invoice will be published: what the invoice is for, the territory entity responsible for the invoice, the value of the invoice, to whom it has been paid, the date the invoice was received and the date it was paid.

The contracts register includes a copy of the public text of each contract—that is, the contract with any confidential text removed. Text that is deemed to be confidential must fall into one or more of the definitions in the Government Procurement Act and must be agreed by the relevant director-general.

Last year Mr Coe presented the Government Procurement (Transparency in Spending) Amendment Bill. We have been waiting for months for him to bring it on, but he has not done so. The government supports the intention of that bill, but the matter of confidentiality is a major problem. And there are a couple of other major problems with Mr Coe’s bill that I will discuss in a moment.

Mr Coe’s bill requires a notifiable invoices register to include a copy of the invoice in addition to the details of the invoice. However, invoices may contain confidential information such as the supplier’s BSB and bank account details or hourly rates of pay, which would be inappropriate to disclose. An officer would need to examine each invoice for confidential text which would need to be deleted, and the public version of the notifiable invoice would need to be approved by a delegate for publication.

The government issues payments on about 14,000 invoices with a value of $25,000 or more per year. The government has estimated that it would need to resource approximately 1½ full-time equivalent administrative officers, and this does not include the cost of a senior executive to approve the publication of the invoice. Given

Next page . . . . Previous page . . . . Speeches . . . . Contents . . . . Debates(HTML) . . . . PDF . . . . Video