Mar 01, 2016

Licences revoked in cross-border builders case

Licences revoked in cross-border builders case

A total of 53 licences issued by the Queensland Building and Construction Commission to builders seeking mutual recognition to work interstate have been revoked in a case that remains under investigation.

Irregularities were spotted by the Victorian Building Authority when dozens of mutual recognition licences were lodged daily, according to a report which appeared in the Herald Sun newspaper in January.

When the article appeared, 25 builders had been deregistered in Victoria and Queensland.

Since then, that figure has risen to 53 according to QBCC acting commissioner Kellie Lowe.

Ms Lowe said enquiries by her staff indicated that none of the mutual recognition licence holders were working in Queensland and all applicants resided in Victoria.

It appeared that an unnamed individual had been charging about $10,000 to lodge fake registration applications with the QBCC, according to the newspaper report.

Ms Lowe said the QBCC’s process for assessing licence applications had been reviewed to ensure the integrity of the licensing framework was maintained.

“Investigations are ongoing, in conjunction with other State and Territory regulators, so it would be inappropriate to comment at this point,” she said.

“The VBA will continue to be vigilant to ensure the integrity of Victoria’s registration system.”

Subcontractors Alliance board member Juanita Gibson remained sceptical of the QBCC’s efforts to get to the bottom of how the scam was pulled off.

“Over the years I have reported many licence breaches only to be met with the same response … put it in writing with details and names, including my own,” Ms Gibson said.

“When pressed they always say they cannot guarantee the protection of my identity, hence no whistleblower protection.”

Queensland Housing and Public Works Minister Mick de Brenni is taking an interest in the case.

Ms Lowe said that Mr de Brenni had been briefed about the risks and issues associated with this matter and the QBCC would continue to work closely with industry regulators to protect the integrity of the different licensing regimes across the country.

“There are currently no plans to brief the minister again or to continually update him on the progress of the QBCC’s ongoing investigations unless that is requested by the minister’s office,” Ms Lowe said.

The VBA would not reveal how the scam was perpetrated or who was involved after more than six weeks of investigations.

“Investigations are ongoing, in conjunction with other State and Territory regulators, so it would be inappropriate to comment at this point,” a spokesperson said.

“The VBA will continue to be vigilant to ensure the integrity of Victoria’s registration system.”

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