‘We let them down’: Cr laments subbie pay failure
"We've let them down", retiring councillor Greg Rogerson has declared, saying Sunshine Coast Council should have introduced project bank accounts on its own initiative to protect subcontractors working on jobs it tendered.
The liquidation of Ri-Con Contractors Pty Ltd has hit hard Sunshine Coast subbies and suppliers who provided material and labour for the Baringa Community Centre, the Mooloolaba Boardwalk and the Caloundra Tennis Centre.
Noosa and Gympie councils had also engaged the company to do construction projects for which subcontractors and suppliers have been left unpaid.
Subcontractors Alliance head Les Williams said Coast tradies were sick of being ripped off.
The Alliance was planning to bring together subbies, their employees and families to confront the councils about their failure to discharge due diligence in their dealings with the builder.
Mr Williams said the Alliance would be seeking introduction of interim legislation that required the principal to check the veracity of statutory declarations by contacting subcontractors before releasing progress payments.
Cr Greg Rogerson (Div 10) said the council should have learnt from the lesson of the 2013 collapse of Walton Construction Queensland that left Sunshine Coast subbies owed $3 million on the Coles Nambour project for Wesfarmers.
A Sunshine Coast Council spokesman has stated previously that it had not introduced project bank accounts because it was still to be required to by legislation.
It has confirmed that it did receive statutory declarations from the builder ahead of each progress payment.
Cheryl Harper of Enzign Painting on Tuesday said subbies on the tennis centre job had completed the work they were required to and deserved to be paid.
Instead, she said they have been left to fund a project that others would benefit from, off the back of their input.
"It's our paint on the walls," Ms Harper said.
Cr Rogerson said the council should have gone down the path of securing payments for subcontractors through project bank accounts.
He said the council was now in a "terrible position, holding money it owed on jobs, with the company in liquidation".
"We should have voluntarily learned from previous fiascos," Cr Rogerson said.
"We sat on our hands. I want to back subbies every day of the week."
A council spokesman said throughout the course of the tennis centre upgrade, it had continued to request and receive statutory declarations from the contractor confirming subcontractors have been paid.
"Council takes all reasonable and required actions in relation to subcontractors … noting that their legal and contractual relationship exists with the contractor …"