A pretty obvious tax bungle could put a long-time Brisbane hospitality identity out of business.
A pretty obvious tax bungle could put a long-time Brisbane hospitality identity out of business.

ATO bungle threatens to wipe out hospitality identity

A PRETTY obvious bungle by the tax man is threatening to send a long-time Brisbane hospitality identity to the wall.

Darren McGillivray has operated venues across the city for the past 20 years. Currently he runs the Alta Café in the CBD, as well as Fuel & Co at Nundah and a separate catering service.

Back in February, before the hammer blow of coronavirus smashed his industry, he restructured and consolidated several of his trading entities to streamline his operations.

It was done in part to assist many of his 35 staff at the time, some of whom have worked for him for more than 15 years.

Brisbane hospitality identity Darren McGillivray.
Brisbane hospitality identity Darren McGillivray.

But late last month, the ATO knocked back his application for cash flow boost payments that McGillivray estimates would inject about $60,000 of critical funding in to his severely depleted coffers over the next six months.

The reason? The agency's records, based on his recent business restructuring, show that he's only been trading for a few months so he's not eligible for the emergency assistance package.

Worse still, the ATO is now also chasing about $20,000 in GST and PAYG payments that should be deferred. That's on top of a corporate client who has defaulted on a $33,500 bill.


McGillivray told City Beat yesterday that he's churned through four ATO reps on the phone trying to fix the problem, including one who, incredibly, told him to simply get another bank loan to deal with the issue.

That's despite his compiling detailed records to prove he's been in business continually since April 2000.

To cope with the COVID-19 nightmare, McGillivray said he budgeted very carefully to make sure all his staff and suppliers have been paid in full to date.

That's required him to defer mortgage payments for his businesses but he was also counting on the government's aid package to survive. Now, doing just a tenth of his normal trade, he's not sure if he can make it.

"I've battled through the GFC, the floods and seen 14,000 public servants get retrenched. I can manage most things but I can't manage this,'' McGillivray said.

A bungle by the ATO threatening to send a Brisbane hospitality identity to the wall.
A bungle by the ATO threatening to send a Brisbane hospitality identity to the wall.

"The bottom line is that surely common sense must apply and the ATO needs to apply their own rulings. I'm not asking for anything that anyone else hasn't got.''

Desperate for a circuit breaker, he's written to his local member, Federal MP Anika Wells, as well as Treasurer Josh Frydenberg.

An assistant to Wells reached out to McGillivray yesterday to help sort out the mess.

"We contacted the ATO as soon as possible and they have stated that they are 'currently assisting' you,'' the Wells operative noted in an email to him.

Ha! Some assistance.


Already doing it tough, a loss-making nickel miner based in Brisbane is now facing another threat to its survival.

A wind up application has been lodged in a WA court against listed minnow Axiom Mining, which has been facing expulsion from the Solomon Islands since late last year.

Over the past eight years, the company has spent about $50 million on its Isabel Nickel operation.

But the Solomon Islands government cancelled Axiom's foreign investment license in October and informed expatriate workers they had to leave the country.

Axiom boss Ryan Mount and his team continue to fight back through the courts.

He has alleged that his firm refused to make corrupt payments to stay in the nation, where a Chinese rival is now poised to swoop in and take control of the mining tenements and gain access to a deep water port.

Mount could not be reached for comment yesterday and no defence has been lodged yet in the WA case.

Axiom, which also controls copper and gold tenements in Queensland, has kept its shares in voluntary suspension since May last year as it seeks additional finance.


Originally published as ATO bungle threatens to wipe out Brisbane hospitality identity