THE AUDACIOUS PURSUIT continues, The West Australian, September 20, 2016, under the heading ‘Voters back Grylls’ tax plan’, reports: “Brendon Grylls’ radical election policy of hitting BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto with a new mining tax has almost 50 per cent more supporters than detractors”

The policy has been criticised as a job-destroying, confidence-sapping sovereign risk by the Nationals’ alliance partners the Liberal Party, as well as Labor and the mining lobby.

“BHP has warned its employees that the policy puts their jobs at risk. Rio Tinto has ranked it the company’s No.1 global risk.”

In The Australian, 23.9.16, in response to BHP Australia chief Mike Henry, Mr Grylls said in a statement that Mr Henry’s definition of ‘fair’ needed reviewing.”

“Mike considers it fair to still be paying a 25c per tonne production rental set in the 1960s, fair to channel Pilbara profits via Singapore, fair to fight the ATO when they call you out for it, fair to scare your Pilbara workforce with untoward emails when their hard work delivers more than $10bn profit per annum at the current spot price, and fair to unilaterally increase payment terms to suppliers and subcontractors,” Mr Grylls said”

SUBBIES REFORM CRAWLS ALONG is the headline for an opinion piece by Paul Murray published in the 17.9.16 edition of The Weekend West, outlining the current state of play with addressing of subbie payments in WA

Paul Murray states: Now, it’s not that the Government is doing nothing. Commerce Minister Michael Mischin has committed to reduce maximum contractual payment terms to 30 business days to facilitate prompt payment and increase cash flows, and expand to 90 days the time for subbies to apply for adjudication of a payment dispute.

And he has promised penalties for intimidation to address “the apparent fear of retribution” among subcontractors if they use the Act to resolve payment disputes.

In a clear response to some of the BER [Building the Education Revolution] problems, the State Government will tighten the law on building contractors who have forced unfair contract terms or engaged in unconscionable conduct towards subcontractors and suppliers.

And it will introduce a code of conduct for tenderers on government-funded projects through its Building Management and Works arm to act as a good behaviour test for contractors.

But Labor has upped the ante, promising a “project trust account” for government contracts to protect access to progress payments between head contractors and subcontractors. It will also establish a security of payments mechanism for government and non-government contracts to provide more transparency and structure to progress payments.”

“Labor senses that the Government has misread the level of community unrest about what happened to subcontractors and the number of people who were hurt by the BER collapses.

“In WA, subcontractors continue to experience uncertainty on government and non-government projects which is evidence of the need for broad industry reform,” Labor says. “The Liberal State Government has had ample time to implement changes that will benefit subcontractors and has failed to do so.”

The stage is now set for an intriguing policy auction if the Government can get its legislation to the Parliament and dealt with before the election in March.”

So where does this leave the subcontractors? Whilst the Government has taken steps to address the situation it seems that it is too little too late and the issue seems to have now become an election political football, and while the political game is being played small businesses continue to suffer the dire consequences of their in action.

When are politicians going to put the needs and aspirations of small business ahead of their political self-interest and gamesmanship, could it be possible that they could become afflicted by federal Liberal/Labor’s bi-partisanship and compromise in finding an urgent and meaningful solution? We wish.

SMALL BUSINESS MARGINALISED: As a result of the WA Government ministerial reshuffle of 22.9.16, the Premier has in effect moved to further marginalise small business by allocating the portfolio of Finance to Minister L’Estrange who is now the Minister for Finance, Mines and Petroleum and Small Business.

BIG BANKS SHIELDING OF SHAREHOLDERS TO END: On the Sky News segment ‘Beattie & Reith’ on Wednesday evening 21.9.16, in an interview with Kate Carnell, Small and Family Business Ombudsman she was berated by Peter Reith for her investigating complaints against Banks by small business, which he claimed was in effect an attack on “free enterprise” and an attack on the banks’ shareholders. Interestingly, The Australian 23.9.16 reports: “New Reserve Bank governor ­Philip Lowe has indicated that the era of big banks shielding shareholder returns is coming to an end.”

“He said the banks’ holding back of the cash rate cut was not sur­prising. “My assessment is that the borrowers have largely borne the cost of that, not the shareholders of the banks, and it is an interesting question about who ultimately should bear the cost,” he said.”