QBCC has suspended the building giant of Laing O’Rourke Australia.
QBCC has suspended the building giant of Laing O’Rourke Australia.

Construction giant’s licence suspended

THE Queensland construction watchdog has suspended the licence of building giant Laing O'Rourke Australia amid concerns about its financial viability.

Queensland Building and Construction Commissioner Brett Bassett said the company's licence was suspended after a show-cause notice was issued by the QBCC in January.

The suspension means that work on the company's Queensland sites must stop.

It holds the highest possible licence, allowing it to work on projects worth over $240 million.

The UK-based company's Australian arm has been bleeding red ink, booking a net loss of £14.6 million ($26.6 million) towards the group's global net loss of £46.5 million ($84.6 million).

Its Australian projects have included the $130 million Griffith University health centre, Brisbane Airport expansion, Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre and $955 million redevelopment of Sydney's Central Station.

The licence suspension is the latest bad news for the sector, with more than 1400 companies in the state's construction industry entering administration in the past five years.

Mr Bassett said the company had failed to show how the company was operating with the required financial assets to back it construction projects.

"This means the company was operating outside its allowable annual revenue limit and this presents a serious risk of financial harm to the sector," Mr Bassett said.

"The QBCC has issued a licence suspension, the next step in the regulatory process, effective immediately, which means that work on the company's Queensland sites must stop."

Mr Bassett said the suspension came after an 11 month investigation. "In April last year we began investigating the company," he said. "Prior to this investigation, the last time the company was required to provide financial information to the QBCC was in March 2014."

He said that the suspension serves as a reminder to every construction company working in Queensland. "If you hold a QBCC licence and work in Queensland, you need to adhere to local laws, it's that simple," Mr Bassett said.

Tougher new laws under Housing and Public Works Minister Mick De Brenni require building companies to submit annual financial reports to the QBCC.