Late Payments to Small Business – Again

by | Jul 12, 2021

Now it’s your turn to speak up.

I know I go on about this, but really, it’s very important!

And I’m not the only one who thinks so. Following an inquiry last year (Payment Times and Practices Inquiry) the Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman, Kate Carnell, has initiated a follow-up inquiry and report.

This time, however, Ms Carnell is following the instructions of the new Minister for Small Business, Mikaela Cash. Ms Cash was only appointed to the portfolio in August, so it’s heartening that she has moved on this issue quickly.

Who are the bad payers in Australia?

This new inquiry will look specifically at who the bad payers are, and drill down into the effects these late payments are having. The ASBFEO will use a 5 minute survey to collect data, and I presume that it will also build on the evidence presented to the Parliamentary Inquiry into how the mining industry can support regional businesses.

When the ASBFEO Inquiry into Payment Terms and Practices was announced last year, I was optimistic that something positive would result. I wrote a post titled “At last – a possible end to small businesses being used as “banks”. (My friend Tracy Sheen calls me an unwavering optimist! But you have to keep pushing and hoping for positive outcomes don’t you?)

So far, not too much has happened outside the Government sector, but at least the topic is popping up in the press and on social media more frequently. With the weight of the Minister and the ASBFEO behind this latest inquiry, I hold on to my optimism that eventually, the Government will legislate for 30 day payment terms (or less – wouldn’t that be nice?)

Please, make your voice heard!

I urge every small business owner to participate in this inquiry by completing the 5 minute survey. If you have the time and resources, compile a list of your customers and how long they take to pay their invoices. Yes, include the good payers as well. They deserve a gold star.

I know from first-hand experience that many, many Small Business owners affected by long payment terms in the resources industry were reluctant to give evidence to the recent Parliamentary Inquiry out of a fear of retribution (even though submissions could be confidential), and also having to take the time to compile a written submission. The 5 minute survey can be completely anonymous, and takes only – well, 5 minutes.

I will continue to pass on information via my contacts and social media to keep as many people as I possibly can up to date, so please pass it on to your own networks.

Bronwyn Reid

November 2018