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National Payment Transparency Register established

The Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman has established a National Payment Transparency Register to promote best practice in business-to-business payments.

An inquiry earlier this year into payment times and practices recommended developing a national register.

The inaugural publication shows the average time to pay ranges between 14 days and 40.

Ombudsman Kate Carnell said the snapshot compared favourably with some multinational companies, which wrote payment terms of 60-120 days into their contracts.

“Cash flow is king to small business; late payments can be the difference between success and insolvency,” Ms Carnell said.

“Overseas experience has demonstrated that faster payments through supply chains will free up cash flow and stimulate investment, jobs and growth.”

Australian businesses are invited to sign up to the register now available on the ASBFEO website. The register provides an opportunity for businesses to promote their commitment to good payment time practices.

The Ombudsman also invites signatories to the Australian Supplier Payment Code to promote their practices on the register.

The code commits participating organisations to pay eligible Australian small business suppliers on time and within 30 days of receiving a correct invoice.

Ombudsman Kate Carnell said the code was a positive step but lacked accountability.

“The Business Council of Australia initiative acknowledged the problem of late payments but didn’t provide a reporting mechanism,” she said.

“We wrote to the signatories and invited them to publish their payment performance data.

“I congratulate the companies that responded and urge others to be equally transparent.”

Small business suppliers are encouraged  to let the Ombudsman’s office know if the terms on the register are not being met or if they are experiencing constant late payments or subject to terms being extended. The Ombudsman is also keen to hear good news such as payment terms being shortened.

“The register is under ongoing review and development,” Ms Carnell said.

“We hope it will become a reference point to encourage and promote improved payment time performance.”