LNP pledges inquiry into Queensland's building industry
EXCLUSIVE: QUEENSLAND'S building industry would be probed by a Commission of Inquiry to get to the bottom of unscrupulous practices including the $500 million nonpayment scandal driving the state's subcontractors to the wall, the LNP has pledged.
LNP Leader Deb Frecklington has committed to establishing the inquiry should she successfully win power at the next State Election in just over 20 months' time.
It follows shocking revelations uncovered by News Queensland's Back our Subbies campaign that more than 50 building companies had collapsed since 2013 leaving more than 7000 subbies unpaid and owed more than $500 million.
Ms Frecklington said the commission of inquiry would have the same powers as a royal commission, including compelling witnesses to take the stand and answer questions.
"Builders are falling over, subbies aren't getting paid and homeowners are being left devastated," she said.
"Hard-working Queenslanders aren't being paid what they're owed."
Ms Frecklington said the inquiry would not only probe the underpayment of subbies.
"It will also investigate how developers are gaming the system with the support of banks to protect both their self-interests and the role of senior government figures who were warned of major collapses and failed to act," she said.
"The system is broken and we need to restore confidence in the Queensland building industry.
"There is no easy fix, but this inquiry will allow people to tell their story, with the key focus on sub-contract payments."
Inquiries are currently under way into the high profile collapse of Rockhampton-based JM Kelly Builders with regulator the Queensland Building and Construction Commission recently announcing $200,000 in funding for liquidator PwC to conduct a Federal Court examination of what went wrong.
Public Works Minister Mick de Brenni told Parliament earlier this month that the circumstances of the JM Kelly "failure" had been referred to ASIC by police.
Mr de Brenni has also pointed to a suite of new laws introduced by the Government to give greater protection to subbies which began on January 1, including potential jail time for those caught mishandling money meant for subcontractors.
Opposition Public Works spokesman Michael Hart, however, said more needed to be done.
The LNP has given in-principle support to the establishment of a dedicated police taskforce to investigate fraud in the building industry.
Mr Hart said a commission of inquiry would also ensure the industry was cleaned up to "safeguard the future of sub-contractors who only want what they're owed".