George Christensen is campaigning for multinational mining companies to pay local businesses in 30 days or less.
George Christensen is campaigning for multinational mining companies to pay local businesses in 30 days or less. Rainee Shepperson

'Pay in 30 days or face a fight' MP warns miners

PAY in 30 days or risk government intervention. This is the message Federal Member for Dawson George Christensen is sending to multinational mining companies.

The MP says several multinational mining companies are dragging the chain, not paying local contractors for up to 90 days and in some cases 120 days and beyond.

The Make it 30 Days campaign was launched by Mr Christensen yesterday and will be the first step in tackling the issue.

"I am telling multinational mining companies to make their payment terms 30 days or less to give local businesses a fair go," he said.

"What we've had in this region for far too long is the big mining companies dictating to local contractors how long their terms of payment are going to be.

"What ends up happening is local businesses then struggle to make their own payments."

Mackay's Resource Industry Network found over the next five years, reverting to 30-day payment terms would add 380 jobs, $150million in wages and $250million in gross regional product to the region's economy.

One local business owner, who did not wish to be named, said it was difficult to pay staff wages every seven days when the business was waiting 60-90 days to be paid for their work.

"It puts a big financial burden on the business because you've got to go to banks and borrow money," he said.

"During the bottom of the mining cycle a few mining companies extended their payment terms, which you could understand when everyone was doing it tough.

"But now that those companies are back making healthy profits, it's only right for payment terms to go back to 30 days."

The business owner recognised that not all mining companies were to blame, with Glencore, New Hope Group and Whitehaven Coal maintaining payments within 30 days.

He claimed BHP and Rio Tinto were the two main culprits.

"BHP has a big footprint in this region so many locals are adversely affected," he said.

"When there is less cash in the business it impacts on the business being able to grow, have stock on the shelf, invest in technology and research and development.

"You need surplus cash to invest in overhead roles but when the cash is tied up somewhere else you can't do that.

"There is a domino effect because if the end user stops paying, it flows on to each company."

The Daily Mercury contacted numerous local businesses who all declined to comment out of fear it would prevent work opportunities with the big mining businesses.

Mr Christensen encouraged locals to sign the petition on www.makeit30days.com.au to help make a change.

All signatures will be kept confidential.