Weekend Gold Coast Bulletin - - OPINION -

THE Gold Coast has worked hard to max­imise pros­per­ity and sus­tained growth as a last­ing le­gacy of next year’s Com­mon­wealth Games.

But it must in­clude iron-clad pro­tec­tion for a ma­jor artery of our econ­omy, sub­con­trac­tors.

The Gro­con de­ba­cle un­cov­ered by the Bul­letin this week re­in­forces the need for tougher penal­ties for de­vel­op­ers who fail to pay their work­ers.

The high-pro­file col­lapse of build­ing com­pa­nies in the past year has come at a huge cost to hun­dreds of sub­con­trac­tors. Think Cullen Group, Blue­stone and Batir. Gold Coast fam­i­lies forced to write-off mil­lions of dol­lars sim­ply for do­ing their job.

That list now in­cludes the mob be­hind one of the Games mar­quee projects.

The vil­lage con­tract meant the city would give up one of its best as­sets so it could stage a world-class sport­ing event at cost price and Gro­con, in trans­form­ing Park­lands Show­grounds, would reap the fi­nan­cial benefits of sell­ing the apart­ments used by the ath­letes.

The Bul­letin sounded the alarm on Gro­con a year ago when it re­vealed the con­struc­tion giant had se­cretly ap­proached the gov­ern­ment for more than $50 mil­lion so the Games vil­lage could be fin­ished. Yes­ter­day, the Bul­letin learned the de­vel­oper has lost more than $20 mil­lion on the deal.

Gro­con no longer has a Queens­land li­cence. Tradies are owed mil­lions and Christ­mas is just over a month away.

Af­ter the Gold Coast Bul­letin’s re­lent­less push for bet­ter pro­tec­tion of tradies from rogue op­er­a­tors, Hous­ing Min­is­ter Mick de Brini in Au­gust fast-tracked new laws in Par­lia­ment. They in­clude higher penal­ties, jail time and life-time bans for shonky op­er­a­tors who cre­ate new businesses to es­cape their debts. Sub­bies say the laws would be the best in Aus­tralia

Trou­ble is, they are sit­ting in Bris­bane gath­er­ing dust be­cause they are yet to be leg­is­lated.

Along with small busi­ness, sub­bies are the lifeblood of a Gold Coast econ­omy that is lead­ing the state. Ev­ery­day peo­ple get­ting on with their lives.

It is too easy for shonky fat-cat de­vel­op­ers to wipe their hands, turn and run when the go­ing gets tough and that needs to stop. Now.

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