Coast MP's call to stop ‘lawless’ building practices
SOME contractors in the construction industry were "white-collar vicious, lawless, unscrupulous participants and associated fraudsters who hid the money they took before they went into liquidation" independent Sunshine Coast MP Peter Wellington has told Parliament.
Mr Wellington has demanded the Newman government fix security of payments issues that are rampant in an industry that has annual insolvencies in the order of $3.2 billion across Australia.
He said ensuring money paid by clients to a principal contractor was held in an account solely for that purpose should be the government's first priority.
"Subcontractors and suppliers in our construction industry sit near the bottom of the construction industry hierarchy, and history shows that this group of workers is continually the biggest loser in the construction industry claim for payment," Mr Wellington said.
He was speaking to planned amendments to the Building and Construction Industry Payments Amendment Bill, which he said failed to achieve Housing Minister Tim Mander's objective to have a system of payment in the construction industry "which is fair to all".
"The Hansard record will show that the minister also spoke about the need for justice to not only be done but seen to be done in Queensland," Mr Wellington said.
"I do not believe this bill achieves those aims. If the government was fair dinkum in wanting to make sure that justice was done and the law was fair to all in Queensland, then the simplest way is to introduce amending legislation that simply requires that money that is paid for a specific contract must be secured for that particular contract and cannot be siphoned off to be used on unrelated projects.
"In other words, we should introduce an amendment to legislation to take action against the white-collar vicious, lawless and unscrupulous participant and associate corporate thieves who use money from one contract for another unrelated (one).
"No one else in Queensland can take money for one purpose and use it for another and then perhaps later on reimburse that money from someone else. We would be charged with stealing. Yet Queensland history is full of cases where we have regularly seen white-collar unscrupulous participant fraudsters posing as construction companies sending subcontractors and suppliers to the wall and not being able to be caught by the government when they transfer money from one job contract to another which has no connection whatsoever."
Mr Wellington said such practices could be stopped simply by changing the law.
"But, alas, I am only dreaming. I do not believe we will see the Newman Liberal National Party government take action. It will be left to a future state government to take the strong action against this protected group of people who are closely connected with people of influence in the government."
Mr Mander this week defended amendments to the Act saying they would boost confidence in the payment dispute process and improving fairness and transparency for all parties.