Council urged to deliver subbies payment security
SUBCONTRACTORS should have greater certainty of payment on Sunshine Coast Council projects, according to a councillor who wants trust accounts introduced immediately for that purpose.
Cr Greg Rogerson (Division 10) will seek support on Thursday for a Notice of Motion for the council’s chief executive officer to bring a report on the introduction of project trust accounts to the final meeting in March before elections at the end of that month.
The liquidation last month of Ri-Con Contractors Pty Ltd left more than 300 subcontractors and trade suppliers owed more than $3.6 million for work and materials they supplied to Sunshine Coast, Noosa and Gympie council projects.
All three councils were provided statutory declarations from the builder that creditors had been paid. However, the liquidation has revealed the extent of 60 and 90-day plus accounts left unpaid.
Subcontractors Alliance head Les Williams said local authorities should be acting in the best interest of the trade and subcontractor sectors which played a big role in regional economies.
He said they should be doing everything they could to protect them.
“If the council doesn’t want to do it now, we will be seeking a commitment from all candidates including mayoral candidates,” Mr Williams said.
“The Subcontractors Alliance will make it an issue at the local government elections.
“They should be leaders instead of followers.”
When Ri-Con Contractors Pty Ltd went into liquidation Cr Rogerson said council had let subbies down by not taking greater steps to ensure they had been paid.
His motion called for the chief executive officer to report to the March meeting on trust accounts for contractors engaged to work for, or on behalf of council.
Cr Rogerson said funds would be held in trust for contractors and subcontractors, until payments were due as part of a building or construction project being undertaken by Sunshine Coast Council.
He said the main purpose of the Building Industry Fairness (Security of Payment) Act was to ensure people working in the building and construction industry were paid for the work they did.
In advice to his fellow councillors ahead of Thursday’s meeting Cr Rogerson said that in 2018 John Murray’s report into payment security undertaken for the Australian Building and Construction Commission, recommended the introduction of statutory trusts to protect those in the lower tiers of the contractual chain.
“The Queensland Government has introduced legislation that by mid-2022 will require local authorities to introduce project trust accounts to all tenders over $1m,” he wrote.
“Why don’t we introduce them now and consider lowering further the $1m bottom limit.
“I strongly believe that Council should do all that it can to ensure that this does not occur again.”