MP calls for police probe into builder’s liquidation
A SUNSHINE Coast MP has written to the police commissioner seeking a fraud squad investigation into the collapse of the builder Ri-Con Contractors Pty Ltd in January.
The company which had contracts with Gympie, Noosa and Sunshine Coast councils went into liquidation with debts of more than $3.6 million to in excess of 300 unsecured subcontract and trade creditors.
Liquidator Paul Nogueira of Worrells said many of those owed money had outstanding invoices from 60 to 90 days and beyond.
Kawana MP Jarrod Bleijie wrote to Police Commissioner Katarina Carroll after meeting O'Brien Plumbing Maroochydore owner Peter King and manager Chris Bidmade.
Their business was left unpaid nearly $80,000 in the Ri-Con collapse.
Mr Bleijie has also signalled he would lodge a question on notice in parliament on Tuesday to Housing and Public Works Minister Mick de Brenni asking "Will the Minister advise what action the Palaszczuk government is taking to protect subcontractors like O'Brien Plumbing Maroochydore - who was recently left unpaid following collapse of the head contractor and lost $80,000 for work completed - to ensure security of payment for subcontractors who work on projects valued below $1 million?"
The question was aimed at new legislation to be rolled out over the next two years that has restricted the introduction of Project Trust Accounts to protect money owed to subcontractors for projects valued at $1 million or more.
Subcontractors Alliance head Les Williams said he wanted a commitment from the LNP that it would in government legislate for the immediate implementation of Project Trust Accounts.
The alliance has become frustrated that Labor's security of payment commitment in 2016 that subbies would be paid on time, in full every time would not be honoured before mid-2022.
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Mr Bleijie has also written to Shane King MP, the chair of the Transport Committee, requesting a public hearing on the Sunshine Coast as part of its consideration of the Building Industry Fairness (Security of Payment) and Other Legislation Bill 2020.
He raised the issue of the Ri-Con Contractors Pty Ltd January 13 collapse and that the LNP was committed to a Commission of Inquiry into the construction industry.
The Labor Government, after a Save Our Subbies campaign by News Corp publications including the Daily, introduced a Special Joint Taskforce investigation into construction sector fraud.
However, subcontractors remain frustrated that investigation has to date failed to result in charges laid in relation to a number of high-profile construction sector insolvencies.
"Given the recent history and significance of this issue to Sunshine Coast-based subbies I respectfully request that you schedule a public hearing on the Sunshine Coast, prior to the date submissions are due to close, to ensure subbies in our region have the opportunity to provide first-hand experience, feedback and submissions to the committee," Mr Bleijie wrote.