SUBCONTRACTORS Alliance head Les Williams says construction small business would target marginal WA and Qld electorates if the Turnbull Government does not move swiftly to embrace the recommendations of an Australian Building and Construction Commission inquiry into payment security.
SUBCONTRACTORS Alliance head Les Williams says construction small business would target marginal WA and Qld electorates if the Turnbull Government does not move swiftly to embrace the recommendations of an Australian Building and Construction Commission inquiry into payment security. Patrick Woods

Subbies target Turnbull over $15b payment ripoff

SUBCONTRACTORS are ramping up pressure on the federal government to deliver a meaningful commitments to a suite of recommendations by a special Australian Building and Construction Commission inquiry.

They are furious that the Turnbull Government appeared more focussed on attacking construction sector unions than delivering payment security to the 350,000 small businesses that form the bulk of the industry and their one million employees.

Subcontractors' Alliance head Les Williams has called on Small Business Minister Craig Laundy to make a public commitment to delivering the Murray Report, either in consort with the states or alone via whatever mechanism he can utilise.

He said Australia's construction industry subcontractors have $15 billion each year stolen from their revenue through non-payment assisted by unfair contracts and from illegal phoenix schemes which facilitate fraud.

Since Walton Construction went into liquidation the Alliance has pushed for police fraud investigations into not just builders who never had the capacity to pay the subbies they contracted but also major banks who Mr Williams said could be shown to have assisted insolvent businesses to continue to trade as a means of recovering outstanding loans and bank guarantees.

The Subcontractors Alliance has to date not been able to secure a commitment for the issues to be explored at the Financial Services Royal Commission.

It now fears the 80 plus recommendations of the ABCC Murray Inquiry into Payment Security would be brushed under a carpet despite being the most comprehensive study ever conducted into the $300 billion a year industry.

Mr Williams has warned the Alliance would use its significant resources and nationwide membership to target marginal Turnbull Government electorates in Qld and WA if it failed to deliver on the inquiry's recommendations.

Fisher MP Andrew Wallace (LNP), himself a former builder before becoming a barrister, said the government was working through the Building Ministers' Forum with the states, who he said ultimately had legislative responsibility.

"In terms of the Murray Review, in April this year at the BMF meeting Ministers agreed to consult on it with industry and stakeholders in their own jurisdictions, while last Friday they agreed further to work collaboratively to consider ways to improve consistency between security of payment regimes across jurisdictions," Mr Wallace said.

"That work is on-going. However, with payments on average 26.4 days late and the construction industry in Australia accounting for 20 to 25 per cent of all insolvencies the Federal Government understands that collectively more needs to be done to protect subcontractors and the small businesses who are often most vulnerable.

"That is why we have already taken steps through the Australian Building and Construction Commission to crackdown on late payments on Commonwealth funded building projects and to educate the 1300 contractors and subcontractors on Commonwealth construction sites as to their rights and obligations, and how the ABCC can help.

"Finally the Government is setting a good example, recently announcing that we have extended our maximum 30 day payment terms to all subcontracting business, including on all Commonwealth construction projects."

Mr Williams said the Alliance held a well-justified concern influence would be exerted by peak industry groups to have the Murray recommendations shelved or watered down to the point of being meaningless.

"I am sure the Member for Fisher knows what I mean," he said.



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