Tick-tock: Late fee time bomb

While the Government spent most of 2015 preoccupied with internal divisions, dire polls and failed Budget measures, Government contractors were eyeing their calendars as payments for goods and service became more and more overdue – costing the taxpayer more than $100,000 in late fees to creditors.

With an average Departmental bill of $6,000, answers to Parliamentary Questions in Writing show Ministers kept businesses waiting for payment for services such as recruitment, relocation, repairs, travel, education, security, IT services.

The Department of Defence was most lax at paying bills on time, with their $28,000 bill for late fees representing about a quarter of the total Government cost. Foreign Minister Julie Bishop’s Department spent $21,000 and Minister for Health, Sussan Ley, also oversaw more than $20,000 in recompenses for delayed payment.

Labor’s Waste Watch Committee Chair, Pat Conroy, said the total cost remains unknown, with the Treasury withholding answers to questions from the MP.

“Ministers are reporting their Departments spent more than $100,000 in late fees this year alone, though this is likely to be a lot more given the Treasury has refused to answer my question,” Mr Conroy said.

“The Government talks about lifters and leaners, so what do you call this?”

“We are talking about Minister’s whose Departments can’t even keep on top of the most rudimentary bills!”

“How many of these creditors are small businesses and how does an interruption like this affect their cash flow and impact on their business?”

“This Government continually says one thing and then does another.”