Minister for Housing and Public Works Mick de Brenni and Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk. Photo: News Corp/Attila Csaszar
Minister for Housing and Public Works Mick de Brenni and Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk. Photo: News Corp/Attila Csaszar

Labor has no love for building industry probe

The Palaszczuk Government has refused to commit to a Commission of Inquiry into the Queensland building industry, with Saturday's state election looming large.

Housing and Public Works Minister Mick de Brenni late last week would not commit to supporting a probe with the same powers as a Royal Commission within the next term of parliament, if re-elected.

He said no government in the nation had come close to the State Government's "historical and national leading reforms to ensure that tradies get paid on time, in full, every time".

In early-2019 Opposition Leader Deb Frecklington committed to a Commission of Inquiry, should the LNP win government on October 31.

'Milestone' reforms to put money in subbies' pockets

She committed to an inquiry with the same powers as a Royal Commission to compel people to give evidence, announcing in March the LNP would allocate $5 million in funding from July 1, 2021, to allow sufficient time to consult on the terms of reference.

This week LNP Shadow Minister for Housing and Public Works Michael Hart reaffirmed his party's commitment to a probe of the building industry.

"An LNP Government will establish a Commission of Inquiry into the building and construction industry to address a range of issues, including industry compliance and ensuring subcontractor payments are made," he said.

News Corp's Back our Subbies campaign, led by the Daily, identified more than 50 building companies that had collapsed since 2013 and left more than 7000 subbies unpaid and owed more than $500 million.

LNP Leader Deb Frecklington with LNP member for Burleigh Michael Hart.
LNP Leader Deb Frecklington with LNP member for Burleigh Michael Hart.

Mr de Brenni said two independent inquiries had already clearly laid out what was required to address the issue.

He said Queensland had implemented the recommendations for trust accounts and penalties stemming from the reviews, and was the only state to "fully commit to them".

"The Queensland Parliament has already passed laws that see a phased implementation of the trust account system and compliance mechanisms, over the next two years and a statutory review into the role of developers in 2021," Mr de Brenni said.

"The only thing that will deliver a result on security of payments for tradies is a re-elected Palaszczuk Government as Deb Frecklington and the LNP are on the record opposed to fair payment laws and will recklessly wind them back for their big end of town developer donors.

"Any calls for a Royal Commission should be into the conduct of some of Australia's largest banks and what role they played in assisting the Liberal National Party, including to accept funds from developers that failed to pay their debts to tradies."

Creditors emerge after major building firm collapse

Subcontractors Alliance founder Les Williams said it was frustrating to hear the State Government wouldn't commit to a full Commission of Inquiry, as he said the project bank accounts had taken "such a long time" to come into effect.

Les Williams of the Subcontractors Alliance.
Les Williams of the Subcontractors Alliance.

He said it was crucial to know how so many insolvencies were able to happen within the industry, and said any inquiry needed to put the Queensland Building and Construction Commission under the microscope over its licensing and insolvency practices, as well as the Queensland Ombudsman.

Mr Williams said he was happy the LNP had confirmed they would honour their commitment to an inquiry, but was "apprehensive" that they would follow through.

"It (industry) definitely needs it," he said.

He added it wasn't just subbies, with many homeowners having issues with the QBCC in relation to the home warranty insurance program.



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