Min­is­ter calls for an­swers over col­lapse

Sunshine Coast Daily - - NEWS - BILL HOFF­MAN bill.hoff­man@sc­news.com.au

DE­SPITE a se­ries of com­plaints made to po­lice dur­ing the past 12 months by sub­con­trac­tors and the Queens­land Min­is­ter for Hous­ing and Pub­lic Works, not one pros­e­cu­tion has been launched in re­la­tion to al­leged crim­i­nal ac­tiv­ity in the state’s con­struc­tion in­dus­try.

Hous­ing and Pub­lic Works Min­is­ter Mick de Brenni said small busi­nesses who had lost out to the col­lapse of two Cen­tral Queens­land com­pa­nies in the past two years con­nected to the same con­struc­tion group de­served an­swers.

Mr de Brenni said he had re­ferred to po­lice claims false statu­tory dec­la­ra­tions had been lodged by JM Kelly Builders that sub­con­trac­tors had been paid on gov­ern­ment in­fra­struc­ture projects.

He said whether there was a need for a spe­cial task­force in­ves­ti­ga­tion into every­body who might have at­tested falsely to the true state of that com­pany and JM Kelly Project Builders in 2016 was a mat­ter for the po­lice.

“I think small busi­nesses that have been af­fected de­serve an­swers,” Mr de Brenni said. “Ev­ery­one I’ve spo­ken to about this agrees that fal­si­fy­ing a stat dec is a crime, and de­ter­min­ing whether there has been an of­fence com­mit­ted is a mat­ter for the po­lice.

“The cir­cum­stances be­ing played out here are ex­actly the rea­son why this gov­ern­ment de­liv­ered on its elec­tion com­mit­ment to en­sure Queens­land’s small busi­nesses op­er­at­ing in the con­struc­tion in­dus­try are paid in full, on time, ev­ery time.

“We are do­ing this through our his­toric Build­ing In­dus­try Fair­ness (BIF) leg­is­la­tion passed in 2017, which will de­liver se­cu­rity of pay­ment for Queens­land sub­con­trac­tors.

“Th­ese are the strong­est pro­tec­tions for sub­con­trac­tors in the coun­try. A cen­tral com­po­nent of those re­forms was Project Bank Ac­counts, and from March 1, 2018 they now ap­ply to all gov­ern­ment con­struc­tion projects be­tween $1 and $10 mil­lion.

“There is a broom sweep­ing through the in­dus­try that will po­ten­tially see a sig­nif­i­cant num­ber of dodgy op­er­a­tors weeded out, and my mes­sage to those li­censees do­ing the wrong thing is – good rid­dance.” Po­lice Min­is­ter Mark Ryan failed to an­swer di­rect ques­tions about the state of mat­ters re­ferred by the Hous­ing Min­is­ter and oth­ers by the Sub­con­trac­tors Al­liance in re­la­tion to a num­ber of com­pa­nies.

“De­ci­sions per­tain­ing to oper­a­tional mat­ters and in­ves­ti­ga­tions are a mat­ter solely for the Queens­land Po­lice Ser­vice in­de­pen­dent of gov­ern­ment,” a spokesper­son for the Min­is­ter’s of­fice said.

“If any­one has any in­for­ma­tion about sus­pected crim­i­nal ac­tiv­ity they should be re­ferred to po­lice.”

Sub­con­trac­tors Al­liance head Les Wil­liams said pre­vi­ous con­struc­tion in­dus­try com­plaints made un­der spe­cific sec­tions of the Queens­land Crim­i­nal code had been re­ferred on to the Aus­tralian Se­cu­ri­ties and In­vest­ment Com­mis­sion by po­lice against his or­gan­i­sa­tion’s wishes.

Nei­ther the Depart­ment of Hous­ing and Pub­lic Works nor Mr de Brenni would ex­plain what was done to in­ves­ti­gate how such a dis­par­ity could ex­ist.

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