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State Government to pay creditors on time

Radio Broadcast

Steven Marshall, Premier (5AA 9.37-9.42) State Government to pay creditors on time

(Byner: There are some good stories around today … we find that Government departments which fail to pay invoices on time are going to be hit with automatic penalties as part of reforms aimed at reducing the amount of money owed to SA businesses. I got wind of some facts which I happen to know are very close to the mark where the amount owed over 90 days was well over $300m … during the election campaign I asked a lot of people about it. The Government didn’t appear to be too worried and the Libs sort of said, “Well, if we get in, we’ll look at it”. Well, they’ve done more than that. Let’s catch up with the Premier, Steve Marshall. For some time I’ve been noting that the State of South Australia has a debt past 90 days to business and providers … to the tune of $330m. During the election campaign I mentioned this to Jay Weatherill and he did say that was not desirable but didn’t really offer to do anything … Dennis Hood had told me of a situation where it was mentioned to a Treasury official and the reply was, “We will pay when we’re ready”. Well, thankfully, something’s going to happen on this. Let’s talk to the Premier, Steve Marshall … tell us what you’re going to do?) Good morning … there’s a new broom in town and we’re going to make sure that we pay our bills to the small business sector on time. As you’ve said and not just in the recent months Leon, you’ve been saying this for years and years. I think this goes back six or seven years where you and your program have been running a campaign against late payments. You know that this puts an enormous pressure on small business in South Australia. It’s essentially money that is needed by these small businesses to pay their employees, to pay their suppliers and to get on with running their businesses. Now, for too long the Labor Government was doing the wrong thing, they weren’t putting a focus or a priority on prompt payment. We’ll be sorting that out and we’ll be doing it as quickly as possible. (Byner: Now the other thing you’re doing that we have been suggesting for a while is that anybody who was late paid had to apply for interest and … many didn’t because they were worried that if they did, they might miss out on business next time.) You’re spot on. (Byner: … but you’re going to make it virtually automatic.) You’re spot on. People could apply for penalty interest after 60 days had elapsed but they didn’t because 1) a huge amount of paperwork to do it and 2) they were worried about retribution from the previous Government. We’re going to sort out that problem. We’re going to pay it automatically from 60 days but most importantly, we’re just going to get on with paying our bills on time. We’re going to make it a key performance indicator for every single one of our chief executives. We want them to know that there is real pain suffered right across South Australia when Government doesn’t pay its bills on time. We’ll be sorting this out, we’ll have proactive reporting to the public on a monthly basis. This is something that the Liberal Government will fix. This is great news for small business in South Australia and thank you, to you and your program for hammering this issue. Finally, something is now going to be done under this Liberal Government. (Byner: So when you say ‘on time’. If a bill is submitted and … there’s no issues with it … how long will people have to wait before they get their money?) Well the standard trading terms … most of these are thirty day but of course sometimes there are exceptions where a different contract is entered into. But … if we are late, we are going to make this a priority of the Government to get it paid and get it paid quickly. We want to release the handbrake that the previous Government had on the business community in South Australia. As you would know from the calls that you’ve had from your listeners, cash is king in a business. If you don’t have cash, if the Government’s not paying you on time, it has all sorts of flow-on effects for the business. We want to remove that handbrake, support small business, we want to grow the economy, we want to create more jobs. (Byner: That’s the Premier, Steve Marshall.)

John Darley, MLC (5AA 9.42-9.44) State Government to pay creditors on time

(Byner: MLC … John Darley … you happy?) Well, I’m reasonably happy with that … but my concern is … if that 5% fine is imposed plus interest, why does the taxpayer have to pay? And I come back to the point that departments are run by chief executives and directors at fairly high salaries … I think the lowest paid Chief Executive is about $350,000 a year. These people are responsible and accountable for the actions of the Department and I think there should be some action taken against them to ensure that they do the job that the taxpayers are paying for. (Byner: What do you reckon the Public Service Association would say about that?) Well if they’re sensible, they’d agree with it actually. (Byner: So you like what you’ve heard this morning?) Yeah I do … now that Steven Marshall’s said he’s going to hold chief executives responsible but it’s got to go further than that because the chief executive with the director of the individual division should be held accountable for the actions of their department and there should be some provision that if they don’t perform, well then some action is taken. (Byner: John Darley, thank you … he’s a good MP this guy … )