Latest $200m bungle to leave Qld Health red-faced

Queensland Health has admitted it's had to improve its payment processes after paying up to half its suppliers late this year as businesses struggled to stay afloat.

Half of payments were made late in the March quarter this year, meaning 1819 businesses were left waiting for a total of $203.1 million after their due dates. 

Queensland Health managed to improve in the three months to June, but nearly a quarter of businesses, or 1720 companies, were still left waiting for a combined $179 million for more than 30 days.

Queensland Health has been caught out paying thousands of suppliers late this year.
Queensland Health has been caught out paying thousands of suppliers late this year.

The highest outstanding amount to a single business was $986,000 for the January to March 2020 quarter and $966,000 for the April to June 2020 quarter, although Queensland Health said the $966,000 bill was paid just a day late.

Opposition health spokeswoman Ros Bates said small businesses were being treated like cash cows by the Government.

"Almost $400 million in contracts were paid late in the first six months of this year at a time when businesses were struggling to keep their doors open through recession," she said.

Opposition health spokeswoman Ros Bates
Opposition health spokeswoman Ros Bates

"The Palaszczuk Labor Government should be leading by example and paying their bills on time."

Ms Bates said the LNP had a fair-pay policy that would improve cash flow for Queensland struggling small businesses.

But Queensland Health said it had already put remedies in place to improve its payment processes.

Health Minister Steven Miles
Health Minister Steven Miles

They include allowing temporary immediate payment terms for supplies and services essential to the COVID-19 response, and new targets to pay small businesses within 20 days, rather than 30.

"We would like to assure any supplier that if you are doing business with us, you will be paid," a statement said.

"The timeliness of our payments has improved significantly and will continue to do so under recently introduced policies."

The statement said the April to June quarter, during which 76.6 per cent of invoices were paid on time was actually an improvement compared with the same period last year.



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