Sub contractors and their employees protesting at not being paid for the labour and material they supply has become an all-to-common occurrence on south east Queensland construction sites.
Sub contractors and their employees protesting at not being paid for the labour and material they supply has become an all-to-common occurrence on south east Queensland construction sites.

Why subbies want Premier to act now

SUB-CONTRACTORS have questioned why they must wait for a change of government to secure the Commission of Inquiry into the construction industry promised this week by the LNP.

Opposition Leader Deb Frecklington has said a commission of inquiry under her government would investigate how developers were "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".

Subcontractors left unpaid more than half a billion dollars since 2013 by builders whose companies were liquidated, have welcomed the commitment by the LNP leader.

"We would welcome an inquiry and would welcome prosecutions even more," Subcontractors Alliance head Les Williams said.

"None of us in the industry can understand why our allegations are being ignored.

"Why do we have to wait for a change of government when the Premier could do it now.

"The perception is terrible, as if the government is hiding something. It needs to do something now. This will impact the State Government at the next election."

Ninderry MP Dan Purdie (LNP) has claimed the Queensland Police Service has only 25 detectives solely tasked to investigate major fraud across the state.

All, he said, were based in Brisbane at State Crime Command.

Mr Purdie, a former police officer who was elected as the LNP Member for Ninderry in 2017, said major multi-million-dollar fraud was complex to investigate and required considerably more resources than the 25 detectives now dealing with matters across the state.

Mr Purdie said there was really no solution but to do what Opposition leader Deb Frecklington had committed to and stand up a commission of inquiry into the construction industry.

News Corp's Back Our Subbies campaign identified more than 50 construction industry insolvencies in Queensland since 2013 that had left 7000-plus trade creditors unpaid over half a billion dollars.

The Subcontractors Alliance has, over the past two years, made a series of formal complaints to Queensland Police who have yet to conduct a formal interview with any of the affected parties.

Housing and Public Works Minister Mick de Brenni said subbies had been ripped off by a system left by former LNP Housing Minister Tim Mander.

He said Ms Frecklington should hold an inquiry into what Mr Mander did in making the QBCC blind to the financial circumstances of those it licenced.

"It could question what he knew about Walton Constructions at a time it was pouring millions into LNP coffers."

He said the QBCC board at the time was filled with people who held LNP positions and were not reflective of the industry.

Mr de Brenni said a review panel was due to report in March on the Building Industry Fairness Act reform package which would ensure building companies could not get away with avoiding paying subbies without severe penalties.

Police Minister Mark Ryan said State Crime Command advice was that Criminal Investigations Branches across the state had the capability to investigate complex offences, including fraud and other financial crimes.

He said every qualified detective had completed fraud offence-related training modules.

And 180 investigators across Queensland had undertaken a specialist Financial Crime Investigation Course.

"Enforcing insolvency legislation and the regulation of the building and construction industry is the responsibility of other departments at a state and federal level," Mr Ryan said.