The construction union has raised further concerns about Watpac’s Townsville stadium project, calling for work to be halted.
The Construction, Forestry, Mining, Maritime and Energy Union (CFMMEU) said the State Government must launch a full and independent investigation into the use of unlicensed contractors on major stadium works after an issue with a concreter.
The union questioned the Queensland Building and Construction Commission process, saying it took just two hours for an associated company to be issued with the relevant licences and for work to resume.
Contractor PJ Walsh Constructions said it became aware of the allegation that its QBCC builders licence class did not cover the contracted works at the Noth Queensland Stadium, despite previous advice to the contrary.
“Notwithstanding this, PJ Walsh immediately contacted the QBCC in order to rectify the issue,” principal Patrick Walsh said.
“The standard application process was followed to obtain the necessary trade licence and all legal and financial requirements were met and approved by the QBCC.”
CFMMEU state secretary Michael Ravbar described the process as rubber stamping an unlicensed contractor after the event at best, occurring without engineering checks of the major structural work performed.
But Mr Walsh said the business’s contracted works did not include a component for the inspection or certification of any structural works at the NQ Stadium.
“Those checks are conducted by an independent third party and are subject to stringent government and industry standards as required on any government-funded project,” he said.
“The CFMEU’s claim that the works have not been subject to stringent engineering checks are completely incorrect and misleading.”
Housing and Public Works Minister Mick de Brenni said the Palaszczuk Government had already asked that Watpac engage an independent assessor to check concreting done to date, and to provide a full report on the steps taken to ensure all contractors were appropriately licensed.
“That independent report will be used to guide any further action that may be required,” he said.
“I have also asked the QBCC to conduct a risk-based audit of other government projects in Townsville.
“The stadium remains on track to be ready for the first game of the 2020 NRL season.”
Mr Ravbar alleged that Watpac’s management of the project had been a disaster from day one, saying regulators appeared more determined to conceal major failures than to address the cause of the problem.
“This is why the project has been beset with instances of sham contracting, underpayment and failure to abide by Best Practice Principles set out in the Queensland Government’s procurement policy,” he said.
Watpac managing director Martin Monro said the QBCC had reached out regarding licence classification applicable to particular work PJ Walsh was contracted to deliver for the North Queensland Stadium project.
“At no time was PJ Walsh unlicensed. The fact the purported issue was resolved so quickly by the QBCC demonstrates more the administrative nature of the technical interpretation of licence classes as opposed to any suggestion of the contractor being incapable of performing the works,” he said.
“Both Watpac and PJ Walsh are holders of QBCC licences, and any suggestion that work performed at the stadium by the contractor to date is not covered by a builder’s warranty is incorrect.”