The Subcontractors Alliance seems to have had a win.
The alliance – a group of subcontractors who came together as claimants in bankruptcy proceedings against a failed developer – have been lobbying the state government for changes for more than three years.
The Palaszczuk Government said it intended fast tracking key elements of its reform measures to help ensure subcontractors are paid in full and on time.
Minister for Housing and Public Works Mick de Brenni, who has been running consultation sessions on building industry reforms through regional Queensland, said that there was a clear mood for Government to get on with the historic building industry reforms.
“Last year the Premier and I announced that we will introduce project bank accounts on government projects between $1 million and $10 million, and this reform is still on track,” he said.
“But to back-in our active approach to strengthening protections I will be looking to introduce complimentary measures that will take effect as soon as the laws pass the Parliament this year.
“The new reforms will significantly increase protection for subcontractors, by increasing penalties for non-payment and rewarding builders who consistently do the right thing by the industry.”
Measures being developed include increased demerit points for non-payment, a more transparent and simplified payment adjudication system, the removal of the second chance rule for builders and an easy method for lodging subcontractor charges.
Residential builders who consistently fail to pay subcontractors or suppliers would also attract higher home warranty scheme premiums.
The Government will also consider strengthening the definition of an influential person as a way of tackling illegal phoenixing.
Mr de Brenni said he would also work closely with Queensland Building and Construction board to rebuild the Minimum Financial Requirements regime for construction business, giving added protections for subbies and consumers.
“Our Government will make sure that the QBCC has the powers it needs to investigate wrong doing. This will include a closer working relationship with ASIC.
“Under the previous LNP Government subcontractors lost most of the limited protections they had when it came to payments.
“Tim Nicholls and Tim Mander tipped the balance even further against small businesses in the state.
“The LNP stacked the deck against the little guy, making the processes for chasing payments difficult, expensive and time consuming.
“They should be held to account for those decisions that have ruined Queensland businesses and subbies’ lives.”
Mr de Brenni said that the consultation sessions, held in Cairns, Townsville, Rockhampton, Maryborough, Bundaberg and the Sunshine Coast, had all reinforced the need to level the playing field across the industry and do it quickly.
“A minority of players have been using non-payment or delayed payment as a business model, which has allowed them to undercut legitimate builders.
“No builder should have to compete against someone who is deliberately doing the wrong thing, and these added measures will help get the industry back on the level.”