Public service coughs up money to pay bills on time: good news for Canberra retailers

Canberra retailers have received great news, with a report showing the federal government has made massive improvement in how quickly it pays its bills. 

Rick Gillespie, store manager of Anaconda Fyshwick, sells a lot of stock to the Defence Department.
Rick Gillespie, store manager of Anaconda Fyshwick, sells a lot of stock to the Defence Department. Photo: Jamila Toderas

The public service recorded its best result in 2013-14 since surveys of the Commonwealth's speed at paying bills were started in 2002.

Rick Gillespie, Anaconda store manager at Fyshwick  whose business has sold $44,000 worth of camping equipment to the Defence Department in the past year, according to AusTender, said all the government clients he dealt with paid within 30 days.

"We've only had pleasant experiences," Mr Gillespie said. 

The historically good figures came despite machinery of government changes that would have disrupted the accounts payable sections of many departments. 


"Since (2002) there has been a significant improvement in the proportion of invoices paid within 30 days and the number of agencies meeting the 90 per cent benchmark," the Treasury report into the government's payments to small business said. 

"In 2002 only 82 per cent of invoices were paid on time. Now, in 2013-14, the Australian government is paying over 97 per cent of invoices on time."

The number of agencies meeting and exceeding the benchmark continued to improve from a low of 30 per cent (five out of 17 agencies) in 2002 to about 95 per cent (35 out of 37 agencies) in 2013-14.

The survey reported on 37 agencies covering 823,033 invoices worth about $3.4 billion. The average value of each invoice was $4108.

The total value of interest paid on late invoices in 2013-14 was $47,207, of which $6729 was paid on late invoices over 30 days and $40,478 was paid on late invoices after 60 days.