Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk and Minister for Housing and Public Works Mick de Brenni met subbies in Caloundra early this year to discuss building industry fairness reforms. Photo Patrick Woods
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk and Minister for Housing and Public Works Mick de Brenni met subbies in Caloundra early this year to discuss building industry fairness reforms. Photo Patrick Woods

Angry subbies demand evidence in letter to Premier

FED up subbies have called on the Premier to deliver on her commitment to ensure they were paid in full, on time, every time after they have been left waiting for her government to consider two critical reports.

Subcontractors' Alliance head Les Williams said subbies who have borne costs amounting to hundreds of millions of dollars from a succession of building company failures in recent years wanted to see the results of a trial into project bank accounts and the Special Joint Task Force report that earlier this year uncovered 108 matters in need of further investigation.

Mr Williams wrote to remind the Premier of her commitment to Queensland's construction industry subcontractors to protect their revenue from fraudulent insolvent trading schemes, unfair contracts and non-payment.

"This organisation wrote to you on four occasions in late 2018 expressing concern about the magnitude of fraudulent schemes plaguing subcontractors and sought your assistance with having these schemes investigated and prosecuted," he wrote.

"A News Corp 'Back our Subbies' campaign across Queensland identified over 50 liquidations that have financially impacted over 7000 subcontractors for around $500m.

"In February 2019 you issued a joint media release announcing a Special Taskforce to investigate subcontractor non-payment saying 'you had met many victims, listened to their stories of hardship and loss and listened to their concerns that no one was listening'.

"The Taskforce heard that dishonest insolvent trading schemes were facilitated by issuing false financial reporting, false statutory declarations and furthered by complicit liquidators, rogue public servants, rogue independent accountants, licensing and probity issues with the QBCC and the lack of enforcement. It also heard about developer/builder scams that continue unabated."

Mr Williams said despite the Taskforce report being handed to Housing Minister Mick de Brenni on June 30, 2019, it had yet to be tabled in parliament and no information had been released about the 108 matters found should be investigated.

Questions put to the Premier were answered by Mr de Brenni who said the Project Bank Account report would be presented by the end of this year.

He said the government was considering recommendations made in the Special Joint Taskforce report, which had been tasked with investigating allegations of fraudulent behaviour relating to subcontractor non-payment.

"We are talking about historic reform here, tradies have been getting ripped off in this country for over a century and it's definitely time that ended, and it will be this Labor government that gets that done, but we will make sure we get it right," Mr de Brenni said.

He said the government had set the bar when it came to restoring confidence in Queensland's building and construction industry that employed 240,000 people.

"We committed to delivering proper payment to subbies with Project Bank Accounts when others said it couldn't be done," Mr de Brenni said.

"Since then we have seen 163 PBA projects - worth more than $661.5 million - awarded in Queensland. Of these, 56 have already reached practical completion.

He said the Building Industry Fairness Reforms Implementation and Evaluation Panel was asked to consider opportunities to enhance the effectiveness and efficiency of the PBA framework.