Debt is Crueling Small Business

DebtBy Travis Schultz

If you are a small business operator struggling to collect debts owed to you, you can rest assured that you are not alone. New research released by the Commonwealth Bank shows that small businesses with a turnover of less than 2 million dollars are carrying about $10.4 billion dollars in debt of which about 62% is overdue. And in Queensland, the picture is even more dire as the state’s small businesses have about $1.9 billion dollars owed to them by debtors, of which 66% is overdue.

It may be a sign of the troubled economic times but there is little doubt that slow payers are creating a vicious circle as small businesses struggling to collect their debts become slow at paying their own suppliers.

It is surprising how often I have conversations with small business owners who say they are doing it tough because they have large amounts owed to them but do not want to sue to recover what is owed for fear of damaging a relationship which might mean a loss of work in the future or simply because of the perceived cost of the debt recovery process.

In Queensland, small business is fortunate to have access to Q-CAT which is a Tribunal that incorporates the jurisdiction once exercised by the Small Claims Tribunal and in which debts can be pursued in a relatively straight forward, informal, efficient and low cost manner.  Apart from having to pay a small filing fee, there is no cost involved and there is no right or requirement to have legal representation. Perhaps if small businesses became a little tougher on bad debtors, it might help break the cycle and get the wheels of cash flow turning again?

Shingleback “The Gate” Shiraz 2010

Shingleback The Gate Shiraz

By Travis Schultz

It may just be reverse psychology at play, but to me, a wine bottle covered in gold medal stickers is generally the least attractive option on the shelf, as each sparkling adornment seemingly screams “desperation” from the perspective of a viticulturalist’s commercial interests.  So when the 2010 version of Shingleback’s “The Gate” Shiraz ($35) arrived cloaked in its gilded glory of three wine show gold medals and a Blue Gold Medal at the Sydney International Wine Show, I was instinctively skeptical.  But my, what a wine!

The 2010 season was favourable throughout the McLaren Vale region in South Australia and “The Gate” was one of the beneficiaries of a near perfect season.  It’s a darkly coloured meaty wine which shows distinctive liquorice and ripe plum flavours throughout, but without the flat spots that you often see in lesser quality McLaren Vale Shiraz.  There’s a touch of bitter tar when you first open the bottle, but the taint disappears once given a chance to breath in the glass.

With its faultless structure and balanced French and American Oak, it’s the kind of Shiraz that even the old world European judges will applaud yet it’s still as fresh as a fruit-driven daisy on my palate.

So next time you see The Gate on the bottleshop shelves, don’t let all the glitter on the label throw you off the scent!

Our wine reviewer, Travis Schultz, is managing partner of Schultz Toomey O’Brien Lawyers and lover of fine food and wine


Position Vacant – Family Lawyer

Schultz Toomey O’Brien Lawyers are seeking an energetic and motivated Lawyer with both experience and a passion for Family Law to commence at their Sunshine Coast office (located in Birtinya). 

Schultz Toomey O’Brien Lawyers is the Sunshine Coast’s largest legal firm with offices also located at North Lakes and Brendale. 

For more information on the firm, please visit

The position is full time and the successful applicant will need to have 2 to 3 years post admission experience in Family Law. 

You will have a mix of private and Legal Aid family law work.  Travel to and from Brisbane will be required for Court appearances, mediations etc. 

You will need previously demonstrated experience in:

  • Conducting initial consultations;
  • Advising clients in Family Law matters;
  • Court appearances;
  • Drafting documentation;
  • Negotiating matters to settlement;
  • Attendance at formal mediations;

You will be supported by a dynamic Family Law team, led by one of the Partners of the firm who is an Accredited Specialist – yet still maintain the flexibility to “manage yourself”. 

The salary package is negotiable and will be commensurate with the experience of the successful applicant.    You will also be able to participate in a bonus scheme for your efforts. 

To apply for this position, please forward an up to date resume to our Practice Manager, Wendy Faithfull, at

State’s Cash Flow Crisis

 cash flow (640x427)

By Travis Schultz

With the current LNP Queensland Government determined to cut expenses, balance the budget and ultimately, reduce debt, it seems inevitable that Queensland is headed for a cash flow crunch.

In order to balance the books, the State Government relies heavily on revenues it receives from State based taxes, fines and penalties which supplement the income flows that the State receives from the Federal Government.  In the wake of a global financial crisis and subdued economic conditions, statutory bodies have found it more and more difficult to recover outstanding debts, especially within sper (the State Penalties and Enforcement Registry which is charged with the responsibility of collecting fines and penalties) and with respect to land tax.  While the State does have some security in the form of a charge against property where land tax is concerned, a secured debt accruing interest, doesn’t help to pay the bills, especially when the State has self imposed borrowing limits.

If the current government remains committed to not increasing debt, it seems likely that in the near term we will see a far more “hardnosed” approach to collection of debts and taxes, such as the issuing of garnishee notices by the Office of State Revenue to not just your property owners but to their financiers to direct that debts be repaid within time frames as short as 21 days.  The historical policy of leniency by the State in debt collection matters might be reviewed as the coffers become depleted!

For business operators, these State Government cash flow pressures are likely to mean that there will be far less leniency with respect to outstanding taxes and penalties in the future and as a result, budgets and cash flow projections set for the 2013/14 financial year will need to factor in prompt payment of State Government revenues.


Sailor Max Quirk is April Student Athlete winner

Max Quirk group Shot (640x427)by Jennifer Swaine

The April winner of the Schultz Toomey O’Brien Lawyers Student Athlete Awards for April 2013 was Max Quirk from Matthew Flinders Anglican College.  Max is in Year 8 and is a talented young sailor.

 He is a member of the Australian Sailing Team and is representing Australia in the World Championships at Lake Garda in Italy in July this year.  Max recently won the won the Victorian State Championships, attained second in the NSW State Championships and won four out of eight races in New Zealand at their National Titles, which is a new record for an Australian.

Max is also a member of the Mooloolaba Yacht Club and says that sailing is his “dream sport” and that “competing at the world championships” is his goal.   In January Max qualified at the Australian National Championships in Hobart as one of the 5 top sailors in our country to represent Australia. He is also the youngest member of the team.

Max is a tremendous young man with a very bright future.  He credits the support he receives from Matthew Flinders Anglican College as a key factor in his success. “The school supports me in so many ways when I am away competing at events. Mr Laurie Jarman, my sailing teacher, emails me with support when I am away competing and Mr Davis, Dean of Student Activities, is always encouraging me.”

“I want to be a role model for all kids who want to learn to sail and who have a dream to sail and represent our State and Country.  The support I have had from Matthew Flinders Anglican College over the last few years has enabled me to reach the top of my sport and represent Australia at the World Championships.”

Max received $1000 which will go towards his trip to Italy later this year and Matthew Flinders also received a cheque for $1000 which they will put towards various sporting programmes.  Max is now in the running for the Overall Student Athlete of the year which will be announced early December.

Well done Max on such a wonderful effort.

To enter online please go to