Minister calls for answers over collapse
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.