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Labour to protect subbies in construction failures

Clayton Cosgrove
Commerce Spokesperson

17 April 2014

Labour to protect subbies in construction failures

Labour’s Commerce spokesperson Clayton Cosgrove will introduce a supplementary order paper to the Construction Contracts Amendment Bill to ensure subcontractors are paid for the work they’ve done when construction companies collapse.

“As we’ve seen with the likes of Mainzeal, the biggest losers in construction company failures are subcontractors,” says Clayton Cosgrove.

“The hundreds of subbies affected are at the back of the creditor queue and are the last cab off the rank when it comes to payments.

“Last year Labour said it would work with industry to develop a solution to protect the payments that subbies are rightfully owed.

“As a result of consultation, we are proposing a simple fix to protect subcontractors working on big commercial projects as the major problems with collapses tend to exist within the commercial sector. This policy will not apply to the residential sector.

“The proposal will require developers to set up an independent trust to receive progress payments that would normally go directly to the lead contractor. In the event of a lead contractor’s collapse the money in that trust will be ringfenced from receivers to ensure subbies get paid.

“The trust will be a secure holding station and payments will pass through it. It will not in any way interfere with contractual obligations and will not interfere with payment timing.

“In practice this means money will flow from the developer through the trust to be paid out to subcontractors and the lead contractor under whatever contractual arrangements are negotiated by them. In the event of a lead contractor’s collapse monies held within the trust will be ringfenced from the receiver and be paid out to subcontractors for work they have done.

“These arrangements are now in place in New South Wales at minimal cost to the industry. We will work with business to fine-tune any regulations as needed.

“If the developer does not want to establish a trust they can utilise the facilities of the Public Trust Office rather than setting up their own,” says Clayton Cosgrove.

The SOP is available here.


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