HOUSING Minister Mick de Brenni targets construction sector rorts.
HOUSING Minister Mick de Brenni targets construction sector rorts. John McCutcheon

$18.2m collapse prompts minister raise concerns over QBCC

THE latest Queensland construction business collapse was giving a good industry a bad name and raised concern about the performance of its regulator according to Minister for Housing and Public Works Mick de Brenni.

The Minister has spoken out in the face of December's collapse of the Cullen Australia Group owing at least $18.2m as the Subcontractors Alliance calls for a full disclosure of the financial documentation relied on by the Queensland Building and Construction Commission to renew its licence only 11 months before its demise.

"The collapse of Cullen has hurt a lot of people including family-run subcontracting and supply businesses,'' Mr de Brenni said.

"This scenario is giving a good industry a bad name.

"This case highlights the need for both reform of the payment system in construction and of the building regulator, the QBCC.

"I am committed to making sure these reforms happen."

Mr de Brenni said smaller licensees and subcontractors have repeatedly told him they feel they were held to a different standard by the QBCC.

"They say they feel like they are constantly under the pump while some bigger players seem to attract less scrutiny into their financial requirements," he said.

"Cases like this only feed into this perception."

Mr de Brenni said he had asked the QBC Board to investigate how Cullen could reach such a level of financial difficulty before flags were raised at the regulator.

He said QBCC decision making needed to be transparent and consistent.

"People should be able to understand exactly what the rules are and how they are being applied. This is a key focus of the reform task I have set the new QBC Board and the Commissioner," Mr de Brenni said.

"Our government is determined to press ahead with our reforms to make sure that subbies are paid on time and in full.

"Through the Queensland Building Plan we are also finalising reforms to licencing and the Queensland Home Warranty Scheme, all of which can contribute to conduct in this industry.

"Too often it's been small business owners who have been left carrying the can for the financial problems of those higher up the chain. That's why we are determined to get construction back on the level."

Mr de Brenni is set to embark on a Queensland-wide road show to sell proposed security of payment legislation which would include project bank accounts on all contracts above $1m.