The controversial collapse of a Sunshine Coast building firm owing hundreds of thousands to Gympie businesses shows why we need a Royal Commission into the construction industry.
Member for Gympie, Tony Perrett, said the late payments and non-payments of Queensland tradies remains an on-going concern in the building and construction industry.
Mr Perrett was speaking on the government’s Building Industry Fairness (Security of Payment) and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2020.*
“The Government has only rolled out a fraction of what they said they would do,” Mr Perrett said.
“It will be eight years from its 2015 election promise before we’ll fully see the implementation of Project Bank Accounts.
“The Government has dragged its feet and the progressive extension of the Project Trust Account system across our $46 billion construction sector will only start from March next year.
“The LNP has called for an Inquiry into the Building and Construction Industry with the growing list of issues such as non-payment issues, fraudulent practices, false statutory declarations, illegal phoenixing activity, and company collapses.
“They are endemic within the industry.
“The collapse of Ri-Con Contractors Pty Ltd has left hundreds of thousands of dollars owed to many Gympie businesses and raised serious questions about due diligence processes in the previous Gympie Regional Council.
“Thirty business and individuals around the Gympie region were owed money.
“Gympie Regional Council had engaged Ri-Con Contractors to deliver the Kilkivan Equestrian Centre and the Gympie Youth Precinct.
“These projects were funded by taxpayers’ and ratepayers’ money.
“It stands to reason that the Council would keep a close check on how funds were being sent.
“It’s called due diligence.
“I received complaints from subcontractors alleging they were not paid despite Ri-Con providing the GRC with statutory declarations confirming otherwise……that the subcontractors had been paid.
“It was alleged to me that the statutory declarations provided to the GRC were false.
“I wrote to the Police Commissioner requesting an investigation by the fraud squad.
“I was then advised it was referred to the Financial and Cyber Crime Group.
“I also wrote to the former Chief Executive of the GRC pointing out that I had been told that the council was made aware that subcontractors had not been paid.
“Astonishingly the GRC’s response indicates that it did not seek any sort of verification of the statutory declarations.
“Any reasonable person would regard this as government meeting the practical expectation of the community.
I” was advised that Council does not have the full schedule of payments made and when they were made, and it was not fully aware of the circumstances around the signing of the declarations.
“This raises serious issues about the conduct of due diligence obligations, oversight, governance, and business within the council.
“Councils conduct business with taxpayers and ratepayers’ money.
“Gympie ratepayers deserve a better oversight of the spending of their funds,” he said.