MAKING PROGRESS: Minister for Housing and Public Works Mick de Brenni will be on the Sunshine Coast today  as part of a Queensland-wide consultation road show.
MAKING PROGRESS: Minister for Housing and Public Works Mick de Brenni will be on the Sunshine Coast today as part of a Queensland-wide consultation road show. Kevin Farmer

Subbies plea to have Housing Minister stay put

CONSTRUCTION industry subcontractors have pleaded with Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk to leave Housing Minister Mick de Brenni where he is as she ponders a replacement for Stirling Hinchliffe who resigned as Transport Minister in the wake of the Queensland Rail debacle.

Subcontractors have been alarmed at media reports which suggest a possible shift to Transport for Mr de Brenni who is in the middle of rolling out major reforms to the State's construction sector which has been riddled by a spate of insolvencies amounting to hundreds of millions of dollars.

Mr de Brenni has already overhauled the board of the industry regulator, the Queensland Building and Construction Commission, and is in the process of introducing a raft of security of payment measures meant to protect the state's 85,000 small business subcontractors and their 250,000 employees.

He will be on the Sunshine Coast Thursday as part of a Queensland-wide consultation road show covering a range of industry reforms including the requirement for project bank accounts to ensure subcontractors get paid on time every time.

The call from subbies comes as Queensland Building and Construction board chair Dick Williams yesterday announced a review of the Minimum Financial Requirements linked to licensing that were introduced by the Newman Government in 2014 along with amendments to the Building Construction Payments Act.

Mr Williams said he had been left gobsmacked by the policy he inherited from the old board which he said "failed to provide a strong, proactive regulatory tool to deal with potential financial failures and related offences".

"The QBCC, even with an improved MFR Policy, cannot prevent builders from going bust due to bad management, too-thin margins or other matters out of its control," Mr Williams said.

"What it will assist with is providing another tool to combat the shonky practices that have been allowed to flourish under the current inadequate MFR provisions."

Subcontractors Alliance spokesman Les Williams said the changes were followed by more than $200m in insolvencies in the sector affecting 3500 subbies and allowed significant non payment by builders.

He said the 2014 legislative changes had allowed an assault on subbies' revenue.

"It's important that it's fixed," Mr Williams said. "It's left too many people financially devastated. But we also want to know how the changes occurred and who influenced them."

In a letter to the Premier Mr Williams said it was "vitally important that Minister de Brenni be allowed to continue his reform. There has been significant work done in this space but a significant amount more is required. We will lose momentum if Minister de Brenni is moved and replaced."



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