Territory Stories

Debates Day 3 - Thursday 21 October 1993

Details:

Title

Debates Day 3 - Thursday 21 October 1993

Other title

Parliamentary Record 21

Collection

Debates for 6th Assembly 1990 - 1994; ParliamentNT; Parliamentary Record; 6th Assembly 1990 - 1994

Date

1993-10-21

Notes

Made available by the Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory

Language

English

Subject

Debates

Publisher name

Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory

Place of publication

Darwin

File type

application/pdf

Use

Attribution International 4.0 (CC BY 4.0)

Copyright owner

Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory

License

https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

Parent handle

https://hdl.handle.net/10070/279555

Citation address

https://hdl.handle.net/10070/418727

Page content

DEBATES - Thur s day 21 October 1993 Mr REED (Health and Community Services): Mr Speaker, I rise this evening to speak about an issue which is of great concern to business people in my electorate and which I believe has potentially serious ramifications for Territory businesses in general. The matter concerns a letter sent by the Wugularr Community Government Council to businesses in Katherine. I will read the letter: Dear Sir, I am writing to you on behalf of the Wugularr Youth Club. We are trying to raise funds for a recreation hall and sporting equipment for the children of Beswick. All moneys raised will be matched dollar for dollar by our funding bodies, and will be used solely for the purposes mentioned above. As you are aware this community supports your business by spending at least $50 000 with your company every year. We are now seeking your support in return and any assistance you may be able to give us would be greatly appreciated. We would like to know if your company could donate $3000 towards our needy cause. Yours sincerely, Alan Mummery Recreation Officer. In my opinion, this letter adds a whole new meaning to the concept of blackmail. Although it is phrased politely enough, the message is unmistakable: we spend money with your business and, if you want that to continue, pay up. This letter has been sent to a number of businesses in Katherine and, from the information available to me, it appears the amount equates to about 6% of the estimated annual value of community business with that company. In my opinion, it is nothing less than extortion, and I am sorry to say that it is working. I am aware that some businesses in Katherine, fearful of losing their Aboriginal clients, have paid substantial amounts of money in response to these letters. Mr Speaker, I table a copy of this letter. I have deleted details of the business to which it was addressed. I doubt that these businesses can easily afford such payments. We are talking about small to medium businesses, the backbone of our economy, which usually are the most vulnerable to events such as financial downturns or unexpected costs. Life is hard enough for these businesses without their being required to build a blackmail factor into their profit and loss equations. It is fair to assume that payments of 6% of trade returns in some businesses would eliminate their capacity to remain profitable. I am not contesting the right of any client of a business to seek some advantage from their custom. Large clients in particular do that all the time, but such advantages are almost invariably based around the price of goods or services to be provided. In simple terms, this means that, if a customer is buying a large quantity of goods from a business, they will usually ask for a discount or, if someone is arranging for the delivery of a service, they seek the best price through quotations or tenders. This is normal practice and it allows both businesses and their clients to establish clearly what is being provided or received and at what price. However, it is definitely not 10 257


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