Former MP outlines new rescue package for unpaid subbies
THE NSW Government has a moral obligation to pay the 23 Pacific Highway contractors owed $7.3million immediately says a former Clarence Valley MP.
Steve Cansdell, who was a National Party Member for Clarence from 2003 until his resignation in 2011, said the government should put together a rescue package for the contractors immediately.
"The deputy premier John Barilaro is coming here on Monday. He should bring the cash with him to help these people," Mr Cansdell said.
Mr Cansdell said the government should be looking at ways it can recover more than $11million from head contractor Seymour Whyte.
"The government paid the money which should have gone to these contractors to Seymour Whyte and so far it has not left their account," he said.
"It doesn't have to pay the contractors twice. It's flush with cash with record stamp duty receipts and money from the sale of poles and wires.
"It can put together a rescue package for these people and then put pressure on to recoup the money from Seymour Whyte."
Mr Cansdell said there was a moral case for the government to bail out the contractors.
"They've done the work, they should be paid," he said.
"Many of took out mortgages to buy equipment to do these jobs.
"Now some are bankrupt or lost their house or have been forced to work interstate away from their families."
Mr Cansdell reminded RMS and its delivery partner Pacific Complete of their fine words when the project began.
"They said they were looking at delivering a legacy to the community through the delivery of this project," he said.
"What they're going to leave is a black mark.
"It's not ok just to show empathy and be sympathetic. These people need a bail out.
"The position they're in is tragic and the State Government is in a position to help them now.
"They can't afford a year or two to wait while this thing goes through the process."
Mr Cansdell was also critical of the State Government's attempts to blame the contractors for their predicament.
"The Roads Minister, Melinda Pavey, was critical of contractors who didn't sign up to the Security of Payment Act," he said.
"The government's own report, the 2012 Collins Report, was scathing about the problems with SOPA being a toothless tiger.
"And some of the contractors in the Wave 5 group did have SOPA cover and it hasn't done them any good.
"Sub-contractors have told me having SOPA accreditation was frowned upon when they were tendering for work."
The former MP said this foray back into public life was purely to keep pressure on the government to pay the subcontractors.
"That's all I want to do," he said.
"I resigned from the National Party two years ago over the greyhound thing.
"This has nothing to do with loyalty, except to the people in the community to make sure the government pays these people the money they're owed."
Mr Cansdell said the issue could turn out badly for the government if left to fester.
The Daily Examiner has asked the deputy premier to comment on Mr Cansdell's views, but he has yet to reply.