The Australian government has announced plans to set aside millions of dollars to support small business (SMB) cybersecurity, digitization efforts and accelerated supplier payment times, according to The Sydney Morning Herald on Monday (Dec. 17). The release of its mid-year financial outlook sees the Australian government allocating nearly $5.9 million USD for a cybersecurity package, including the creation of an online portal through which small businesses can report cyber crime.
The government is also budgeting $2.51 million to create a non-government entity, designed to help small businesses invest in and integrate digital solutions, while more than $720,000 will go toward accelerating B2B payment times for small suppliers. Reports said the government has vowed to promote five-day payments between the government and small contractors when the parties have adopted eInvoicing.
Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman (ASBFEO) Kate Carnell described the government’s faster supplier payments initiative as “the biggest game-changer” for small business owners within the mid-year financial outlook.
“That would be a great incentive for businesses to digitize,” she noted, highlighting the connection between the government’s promotion of SMB digitization, eInvoice adoption and faster supplier payments. “If they move to eInvoicing, they will get paid really quickly,” Carnell added.
Australia’s budget also includes plans to allocate resources to create a mechanism for larger corporates that makes their small supplier payment times public, an initiative previously announced by Prime Minister Scott Morrison earlier this year. The tactic would be similar to the U.K.’s name-and-shame approach to combating late B2B payments.
Despite Carnell’s praise of the budget, she questioned the government’s motives behind allocating millions of dollars to create a non-government entity to help small businesses adopt digital tools.
“Existing entities, like industry associations, are already doing some digital training,” she said. “I struggle to work out why you’d set up a new bureaucracy rather than utilizing the existing entities.”