The Government should ban payment times longer than 30 days, provide creditors with the immediate right to claim interest and recovery costs, and impose penalties for serious non-compliance, Australian Trucking Association (ATA) Chief of Staff Bill McKinley said today.
Mr McKinley was giving evidence before the Senate Education and Employment Legislation Committee. The committee is considering legislation that would require large businesses to report on their payment times.
“Trucking is an industry of small and family businesses. More than 98 per cent of trucking operators are owner drivers or small businesses with 19 or fewer employees,” Mr McKinley said.
“The industry works on tight margins and operators incur most of their costs before they can bill their customers.
“Extended payment times are a significant issue for all trucking businesses, large and small.
“We agree with the small business ombudsman’s finding that public reporting and monitoring will not compel the worst offenders to adopt shorter payment times or improve their payment practices.
“Australia needs to have legislated payment times, which could be based on the European Union’s 2011 late payment directive.
“The Australian version of the EU approach should ban payment times longer than the Australian 30-day standard unless a longer payment time is agreed in writing and is not grossly unfair to the creditor, provide creditors with the immediate right to claim interest and recovery costs, and impose penalties for serious non-compliance,” he said.
Mr McKinley said the ATA supported the payment times reporting bills with amendments to:
- require large businesses to provide disaggregated information based on the business industry codes of their small business suppliers,
- enable the regulator to decide not to publish information that would cause competitive detriment to a small business, and
- provide that reports be made once a year rather than every six months.
“In the ATA’s view, it would be better to get a richer dataset once a year, rather than a smaller amount of information twice a year, with most of that information the same anyway,” he said.
The ATA and its member associations collectively represent the businesses and people of the Australian trucking industry. Together, the ATA and its members are committed to safety, professionalism and viability.