MP George Christensen, inquiry secretary Emma Banyer, MP Barnaby Joyce and MP Brian Mitchell.
MP George Christensen, inquiry secretary Emma Banyer, MP Barnaby Joyce and MP Brian Mitchell. Stuart Quinn

Law needed to pull mining giants into line

THE federal government should force mining companies, by law, to pay their contractors within 30 days, Mackay's peak mining industry body has said.

Speaking at a government inquiry into the impacts the mining industry has on regional areas, Resource Industry Network general manager Adrienne Rourke said legislation was regrettably the only way forward.

"While not supporters of more industry regulation, given our limited success in advocating for 30-day payment terms... we very reluctantly recommend the federal government legislate 30-day payment terms as a fair and reasonable business practice in Australia for all to abide by," she said.

Every stakeholder who gave evidence at yesterday's inquiry, bar mining giant BHP, said 60-day payment terms was choking businesses.

Dawson MP George Christensen, who sits on the federal committee spearheading the inquiry, said evidence had been heard of invoices not being paid for up to 120 days.

"This isn't an anti-mining exercise, but there are some serious issues here with how things are working within the resources sector that only the major mining houses can fix, and if they don't fix it than the perhaps government will fix it," he said.

New England MP and committee chair Barnaby Joyce said major mining houses were bullying small businesses into submission.

"What we have is major players saying... if you don't do businesses the way we don't want you to business, then you won't have business," he said.

"This is putting a foot on the throat of private enterprise and putting a foot on the throat of the basic commercial rights of the people in Mackay."