THE unfair pay practises of large mining companies have come under the microscope during New England MP Barnaby Joyce’s inquiry in to the relationship between the sector and regional businesses.
Gunnedah shire deputy mayor Gae Swain told the inquiry local businesses struggled with the long payment terms imposed by mines.
“Some mines’ payment terms are 45 days, and anecdotal evidence says that one proposed mine has 180-day terms for initial works,” she said.
“This is not bearable for small or medium-sized businesses and needs addressing.”
Mr Joyce said the long payment terms were “completely outrageous”.
“You are not going to stay in business if you have to wait 180 days for people to pay you,” he said.
"That’s just not on. It doesn’t matter what business you’re in, 180 days is like not getting paid at all.”
Cr Swain wants to the mining sector to introduce a standard 30-day payment term.
However, Liverpool Plains Shire mayor Andrew Hope went one step further and recommended seven to 14 days.
He said while the one mine within the plains had “excellent payment arrangements”, others outside the region had terms of up to and more than 60 days.
Committee member and Capricornia MP Michelle Landry said “corporations need to be held accountable”.
“Businesses are going under because of how long the terms of payment are stretching out,” she said.
“If you have 100 blokes to pay every week and then there's a problem with the invoice and they start again, it stretches out to 120 days or 150 days.
“So they’re going to their banks trying to get overdrafts to cover that, and I think it's a serious issue that we truly need to look at.”