Subbie’s darkest hour in days before Christmas
GOLD Coast subbie Glenn Brinkman has been forced to change his business model to lower the risk of non-payment after losing almost $300,000.
Mr Brinkman, who owns Accent Benchtops, told The Courier-Mail his business had been battered by several collapses, including The Cullen Group and Bluestone.
"Businesses are meant to operate on 30-day accounts, but the standard acceptance seems to be 60 days, so they're all slow payers and you have to fight for your money," he said.
The long-time business owner said the darkest time was 12 days before Christmas in 2016 when they realised they would not be getting over $100,000 in owed payments.
"No matter if you're a big or small business, that's a lot of money," he said.
He called for more accountability and consequences in the industry, saying he had been forced to change how he did business.
"With all our commercial clients we don't accept retention, if they want us to do the job we just won't accept their terms of retention," he said.
"Obviously, we lose some work because of that, but we just won't risk it.
"Some are obviously prepared to take the risk, but we're not anymore, you're better off not working than working at such a high risk."
Queensland's building industry would be probed by a Commission of Inquiry to get to the bottom of unscrupulous practices including the $500 million non-payment scandal driving the state's subcontractors to the wall, the LNP has pledged.
LNP Leader Deb Frecklington has committed to establishing the inquiry should she successfully win power at the next State Election in just over 20 months' time.
It follows shocking revelations uncovered by News Queensland's Back our Subbies campaign that more than 50 building companies had collapsed since 2013 leaving more than 7000 subbies unpaid and owed more than $500 million.
Ms Frecklington said the commission of inquiry would have the same powers as a royal commission, including compelling witnesses to take the stand and answer questions.
"Builders are falling over, subbies aren't getting paid and homeowners are being left devastated," she said.
"Hardworking Queenslanders aren't being paid what they're owed."
Ms Frecklington said the inquiry would not only probe the underpayment of subbies.
"It will also investigate how developers are 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," she said.
"The system is broken and we need to restore confidence in the Queensland building industry.
"There is no easy fix, but this inquiry will allow people to tell their story, with the key focus on subcontract payments."
Inquiries are currently under way into the high profile collapse of Rockhampton-based JM Kelly Builders with regulator the Queensland Building and Construction Commission recently announcing $200,000 in funding for liquidator PwC to conduct a Federal Court examination of what went wrong.
Public Works Minister Mick de Brenni told parliament earlier this month that the circumstances of the JM Kelly "failure" had been referred to ASIC by police.
Mr de Brenni has also pointed to a suite of new laws introduced by the Government to give greater protection to subbies which began on January 1, including potential jail time for those caught mishandling money meant for subcontractors.
Opposition Public Works spokesman Michael Hart, however, said more needed to be done.
The LNP has given in-principle support to the establishment of a dedicated police taskforce to investigate fraud in the building industry.
Mr Hart said a commission of inquiry would also ensure the industry was cleaned up to "safeguard the future of subcontractors who only want what they're owed".